A group of former CIA officials launched a website Tuesday to defend the agency after the Senate released a 525-page executive summary of its report detailing previously unreported tactics the CIA used to interrogate prisoners.
The website, “CIASavedLives.com,” includes a statement characterizing the Senate report as “politicization” and accusing the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which compiled the report, of “cherry pick[ing]” documents to “produce an answer they knew the Majority wanted.”
The rudimentary site, heavily bedecked with images of American flags, includes a timeline of events in which the CIA briefed members of Congress and other government officials on its interrogation program, and has a page devoted to statements that the program was “authorized and legal.” The homepage also links to a YouTube video of President George W. Bush defending the CIA on CNN.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday called the details of the interrogation program “troubling.” The report included accounts of “rectal feeding” being performed on prisoners, as well as “standing sleep deprivation” and threats on the lives of their family members. The Senate report also found that the CIA employed interrogation program participants with “derogatory” past records, some of whom had "admitted to sexual assault."
“I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong—in the past,” Obama said in a statement.
An introductory statement on CIASavedLives.com staunchly defends the interrogation program, suggesting that the threats facing the country after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks warranted aggressive CIA action.
“Absent from the report is any discussion of the context the United States faced after 9/11… This was a time we had solid evidence that al Qaida was planning a second wave of attacks against the U.S... It felt like a "ticking time bomb" every single day,” the statement reads. “In this atmosphere, time was of the essence. We had a deep responsibility to do everything within the law to stop another attack.”
The former CIA officials behind the site include Bill Harlow, a top CIA spokesperson during the George W. Bush administration, former CIA Directors Michael Hayden and George Tenet, and Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr., the former head of the counterterrorism division. Rodriguez is known for destroying videotapes in 2005 of al Qaeda Abu Zubeidah being subjected to “enhanced interrogation tactics.”
“We did what we were asked to do, we did what we were assured was legal, and we know our actions were effective,” Rodriguez wrote in a recent op-ed in the Washington Post.