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CIA director rebuts report, says interrogation techniques 'saved lives'

CIA Director John Brennan on Monday rebutted two of the central premises of the just-released Senate report on the agency's former practice of interrogating suspected terrorists in secret, saying the controversial program produced evidence that helped avert potential strikes against the U.S. and that agency officials did not intentionally mislead Congress about its tactics.

"Our review indicates that interrogations of detainees on whom [enhanced interrogation techniques] were used did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives," Brennan said in the statement. "The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of al-Qa'ida and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day."

As evidence of how the program contributed to the government's broader effort to fight terrorism, a CIA fact sheet released along with Brennan's statement cited the case of Ammar al-Baluchi, who was subjected to the severe tactics and was the first detainee to reveal that Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti worked as a courier to convey messages for Osama bin Laden after the late al-Qaeda leader left Afghanistan.

The fact sheet stated that the agency "takes no position" on whether the intelligence information gained through its enhanced interrogation techniques "could have been obtained through other means or from other individuals. The answer to this question is, and will remain, unknowable."

Six Republican members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released their own minority report on the CIA's detention and interrogation programs, condemning Democrats for costing the government $40 million and diverting "countless CIA analytic and support resources" while failing to offer improved intelligence interrogation tactics.

They said that the Democratic majority's report had "political considerations" and created "the false impression that the CIA was actively misleading policy makers and impeding the counterterrorism efforts of other federal agencies."

[Source: By Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post, 09Dec14]

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