Intelligence Officials: Enhanced Interrogation Helped Save Lives, Capture Terrorists and Protect America

December 11, 2014

With enhanced interrogation back in the headlines after the release of the Senate Democrats' blistering report on the CIA, it's worth noting many former intelligence officials' comments, both now and in the past, about its benefits in protecting the homeland.

Former National Clandestine Service Director Jose Rodriguez, who famously told 60 Minutes that after 9/11 people in government needed to "put their big boy pants on," said Wednesday that there was no question it was worth doing.

"We were able to protect the homeland, we were able to save lives, and that is the bottom line," he said.

CIA Director John Brennan released a statement after the report came out, arguing that such interrogation tactics helped "thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives."

Mike Morell, the Deputy Director of the CIA from 2010 to 2013 under President Obama, called the Senate Democrats' report "deeply flawed" and said "many of its main conclusions are simply wrong."

"I became actually more convinced that this program was effective in getting information, that led to the capture of additional senior operatives, that stopped plots that would have killed Americans," he said. "I have no doubt about that."

What is the purpose of working in defense, former Bush counterterrorism official Joseph Cofer Black asked a CBS interviewer in 2012.

"The purpose is to defend innocent men, women and children from being harmed by people whose mission is to kill the most innocent amongst us," he said. "Enhanced interrogation techniques, when used selectively under the appropriate authority, have been key contributors to intelligence. It has allowed us to interrupt terrorist operations, capture terrorists and to protect these people."

"We got an awful lot of information," former CIA head Michael Hayden told Fox News Wednesday. "These interrogations of all the detainees gave us kind of a Home Depot-like storage of information on al Qaeda on which we relied ... well, we're still relying on it today."

Hayden, Porter Goss and George Tenet wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal decrying the report, calling it poorly done and a partisan attack, and saying such techniques led to the capture of senior al Qaeda operatives and disrupted terrorist plots.

Former Obama Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also acknowledged in 2013 that enhanced interrogation played a role in the long but ultimately successful hunt of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.