A group of six former CIA directors calls the Senate Intelligence Committee's report released Tuesday nothing more than a politicized, "cherry picked" argument against the program's effectiveness. And such blatant partisanship, they claim, could negatively affect the careers of CIA officials, relationships to the foreign intelligence partners, and the fight against terrorism.
The group lists three main points the report gets wrong in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday:
Context — the post-9/11 era was a "ticking time bomb" of mounting threats, they write. The CIA would have been "morally culpable" should another attack have occurred.
The program's effectiveness — the information procured ultimately led to the capture of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Misleading the government and American people — "That allegation is flat-out wrong," they write. The CIA was acting with good-faith consultants from national security, the White House, and the Justice Department, they say, and that 20 cases of abuse were reported to the Justice Department.
"In no way would we claim that we did everything perfectly; far from it in the emergency and often chaotic circumstances we confronted in the immediate aftermath of 9/11," the group writes.
It wasn't just their mindset but also Congress' that was different 13 years ago, they say. When it came to learning what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knew about additional plots, they write, one senator "forcefully" asked, "Do you have all the authorities you need to do what you need to do?"