Tags: Steve Malzberg Show | Alberto Gonzales | drones | torture | report

Alberto Gonzales: Drone Use More Damaging Than Torture

By    |   Friday, 12 December 2014 06:31 PM

Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales believes President Barack Obama's employment of enemy-targeting drones is more damaging to the nation than the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation" in the grilling of suspected terrorists.

"It seems to me what's more harmful to this country are the drone attacks," Gonzalez said of the controversial unmanned, remotely piloted aircraft used in military strikes.

"Waterboarding may hurt our standing in the world community. The way the drone program is operated has equal damage — but even more so [because] when you kill a high-level operative, you lose the opportunity to gather intelligence and that's detrimental to our efforts."

Gonzales' remarks Friday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV come in the wake of a Democrat-fueled Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday.

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It concludes the CIA misled Congress and White House officials about its interrogations of terror suspects and mismanaged a program far more brutal and less effective than publicly portrayed.

Some of the techniques used, according to the report , included waterboarding, rectal feeding, forced nudity, and extended periods of confinement in a coffin-sized box, in order to pry information out of suspected terrorists after 9/11.

Republicans counter that Democrats knew about and approved of the techniques and are doing an about-face and slamming the CIA for political purposes. They say the release of the report endangers Americans all over the world.

Gonzalez, who was also counsel to President George W. Bush and is now dean of the Belmont University College of Law, said the approval of "enhanced interrogation" began with the Justice Department.

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"The department, over the course of several years, issued six separate opinions with respect to these techniques," he said.

"[They were] altered by three different lawyers and, of course, supported by three different attorneys general.

"[All of them said] that if these enhanced techniques were conducted a certain way with specific safeguards provided for … then the CIA actions would be consistent, not in violation, of the torture statute."

Gonzales said he was aware that no matter how carefully the program was supervised, it would be controversial if it eventually became public.

"Everything that you do, everything that you write is going to become public and fortunately we worked with a group of individuals that manned up," he said.

"They understood that, and nonetheless they did their job, doing their very best providing legal advice, the lawyers did, and you know lawyers are paid to disagree."

"Where I take offense [with] is people being critical of the lawyers, thinking they facilitate [the torture]. President Bush was clear in his directive that we would not engage in torture and the role of the lawyers was to ensure the CIA was consistent with the torture statute."

Gonzales admitted that he was alarmed by some of the techniques described in the 6,000-page Senate report, which cost about $40 million to produce.

"I became troubled because … some of what was being referenced appeared beyond the [lawyers'] guidance," he said.

"CIA Director John Brennan confirmed that they were some activities that went beyond the guidance and that, of course, was inappropriate and that's a very important point to understand."

But Gonzales is skeptical of some of the damning conclusions contained in the report.

"I don't know how much trust to put in the report.... It truly is a one-sided report, a report signed, joined only by the Democrats," he said.

"The fact they did not interview key players in this, did not interview the head of the interrogations program for the CIA or any of the station chiefs — that was a big mistake.

"When you have a one-sided report you don't know whether information is placed out of context … you don't know what evidence, what facts, have been omitted that actually could've been very beneficial or helpful to the agency."

He encouraged Americans to review the report "with a grain of salt."

"When I hear the report conclude that the techniques, enhanced techniques, were not effective … I worked with [CIA directors] George [Tenet] and … Mike Hayden and they've testified under oath that they were effective," he said.

"These are honorable men … and so the report is basically saying that they perjured themselves and, quite frankly, until I see something a lot more convincing, a lot more definitive, I've got to say I'm behind the sworn testimony of the former CIA directors.

"I believe it is appropriate to look at how the U.S. government has executed the war on terror, [but] we need an impartial, bipartisan approach in doing so. I do not believe this report does that and that's the problem that I have."

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Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales believes President Barack Obama's employment of enemy-targeting drones is more damaging to the nation than the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation" in the grilling of suspected terrorists.
Alberto Gonzales, drones, torture, report
Friday, 12 December 2014 06:31 PM
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