Saxby Chambliss: Senate Probe of CIA Interrogations 'a Mistake"

Sunday, 03 Aug 2014 03:04 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Senate Intelligence Committee Vice-Chairman Saxby Chambliss thought back in 2009 that proceeding with an investigation into whether enhanced interrogations used after 9/11 were used inappropriately was a mistake, and he still thinks so.

"There was only one vote against proceeding with this program, this investigation when it was authorized in 2009, and that was my vote," the Georgia Republican told CBS "Face the Nation" substitute host Norah O'Donnell Sunday. 

"I thought it was a mistake and I still think it is a mistake."

Story continues below video.



The enhanced techniques yielded results, said Chambliss, despite a theory on the part of Senate Democrats, "who are the only ones that carried out this investigation" that no significant information was gained by the use of the techniques such as waterboarding, but that theory is wrong.

"You are going to be able to see from the report itself, as well as from the minority views that we have put together as well as a response from the Central Intelligence Agency, that information gleaned from these interrogations was in fact used to interrupt and disrupt terrorist plots, including information that took down [Osama] bin Laden," he told substitute O'Donnell.

According to recent reports, the Intelligence Committee's report says the CIA misled the government on the severity of the methods, and officials have been quoted that the interrogation was futile, said O'Donnell.

"You have to remember that the CIA is not geared up to do interrogation," said Chambliss. "But because of the nature of this war and al-Qaida being involved, they were given the challenge of putting together a detention and interrogation program."

The Department of Justice gave the CIA legal options, said Chambliss, and the agency does not believe it violated the rules. However, he said, there will be allegations that the agency went too far.

But the minority report will show evidence that some of the techniques worked, he insisted.

"The term torture is being used by the critics of the program," said Chambliss. "I think that term is going to be disputed."

On Friday, President Barack Obama acknowledged that the United States tortured al Qaida detainees captured after the 9/11 attacks, a statement that brought outcry for the president's use of the word "torture."

On Sunday's show, Chambliss deferred on a question on whether waterboarding should be considered as torture, however.

"Waterboarding is one of the specific issues investigated by the Department of Justice from the standpoint of does it comply with the Geneva convention," he said. "They made a determination that it is authorized, that it is not torture."

Chambliss also discussed, on the show, allegations about the CIA hacking into the Senate's computers.

"You have to remember, I did not support John Brennan's nomination to be the director of the CIA," Chambliss said. "If he has a critic it is me."

And when Brennan found out about the breach, he "called Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein and me and came to us and said here is what happened." Brennan then apologized,  he noted.

Chambliss said the breach is "very, very serious" and if he thought Brennan knew about it beforehand, "we would be calling for his resignation."

The CIA staff that got into the computers, though, should be fired, he said.

"The accountability board has been convened and they will be looking into this and they will be dealt with accordingly," he said.

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