Former CIA Director Michael Hayden told Newsmax TV
on Tuesday that the Senate Intelligence Committee's so-called "torture report" on the enhanced interrogation of terror suspects is shockingly incomplete — and he emphatically denied ever lying to the committee members when he spoke to them in 2006.
"No, would be the straightforward and simple answer … first of all, it's a felony [to lie]," Hayden said in an exclusive interview on Newsmax TV
's "The Steve Malzberg Show."
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Hayden — a retired four-star Air Force general who led the CIA from 2006-2009, after heading the National Security Agency — also denied accusations of deception made by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
"I'll go so far as to say she's incorrect. Lying is intentionally, intentionally misleading someone, all right. Let me make another distinction, telling people something they don't want to hear is not the same thing as telling people something that is untrue," he said.
"I don't know why I would go there to try to be inaccurate, incomplete or deceptive in front of my oversight committee.
"I can tell you that what I laid out is what the agency believed to be true and let me add, what I laid out is what the agency will say was true in its report today."
According to a report by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, the CIA misled Congress and White House officials about its interrogations of terror suspects and mismanaged a program that was far more brutal and less effective than publicly portrayed.
The harsh interrogations were ineffective and didn’t produce key information that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, despite the claims by program supporters, the 6,000-page report, which cost $50 million. It added that details of the program were kept hidden from policy makers.
"This document examines the CIA’s secret overseas detention of at least 119 individuals and the use of coercive interrogation techniques —
in some cases amounting to torture," Feinstein, a California Democrat, said in a statement.
But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the ranking member of the intelligence panel, insisted on Tuesday that CIA methods helped capture important terrorists and take down bin Laden.
"Claims included in this report that assert the contrary are simply wrong," McConnell and Chambliss said in a joint statement.
Hayden said there would be no reason for him to lie because he had to go to great lengths to set up a meeting with the committee.
"In the summer of 2006, [I had] to convince the administration that we had to brief the entire committee on the entire detention and interrogation program … The CIA's fighting the administration to get an audience to Congress so we can lie to them?"
Hayden said that Feinstein used specific nuggets "very, very specifically and particularly and I should add, very selectively" to damn the operation.
"This was her taking a five-year look at 6 million documents costing you $40 million with an army of contractors, and finding data points that support … a preordained conclusion that the program was wrong in concept, wrong in management and wrong in that it was not successful in gaining information" he said.
"Everyone needs to wait and make a fair judgment after the CIA rebuttal to this report comes out, and let me emphasize the Barack Obama's CIA's rebuttal to this report, as well as the minority report from the Republicans on the committee."
Hayden said that the committee did not interview any of the CIA interrogators to help draw its skewered conclusions.
"None of us were asked. It wasn't a question of being available. The cover story that they're using is that that was a congressional investigation and therefore they could not get people to talk," he said.
"Now, the congressional investigation ended in August of 2012 and last time I checked, we're in December of 2014. So you had two more years to double check your work if you wanted."
Asked if President George W. Bush did not know about the full extent of the enhanced interrogations until 2006, Hayden replied: "He approved the use of waterboarding and that took place in 2002."
But Hayden admitted he did withhold certain information from administration officials because as he took the reins of the CIA in 2006, "I deferred to people who were there … I'm an intel guy. I'd rather be fact based."
Hayden strongly disagreed with Feinstein's claim that there was not a single case of intelligence gained from the enhanced interrogation techniques that was useful in thwarting a terror plot.
"That is so untrue that the stated actually defies human comprehension. We detained about 100 people, we had a Home Depot-like warehouse of information from those people," he said.
"We continually referred to that information and we could go back to detainees. Every analyst I ever spoke to … understood and indicated to me the importance of the information we got from this program."
Feinstein also said the use of enhanced interrogation regularly resulted in fabricated information and the CIA knew it.
"Well, you know, you've got somebody who even after the use of enhanced techniques and being more cooperative, doesn't suddenly turn into a flag waving loyal American citizen," he said.
"There's information that they still want to protect, information they are less free about giving. In fact, if the senator would accept my testimony, I actually said the [interrogation methods] were not the most important tools we had in getting good information from the detainees.
"I actually said the most important tool we had was our knowledge because we knew what they were telling us was true or not true, believable or not believable."
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