A Democrat-sponsored Senate report released on Tuesday on CIA interrogation methods of terrorists reveals that the US intelligence officials used the rulings of Israel’s Supreme Court to construct an argument justifying harsher practices, as first reported by Ha’aretz.
According to the declassified version of the more than 6,000-page report, CIA officers were concerned over the legal use of harsher interrogation methods when questioning al-Qaeda suspect’s post 9/11.
In a draft memorandum written by the CIA’s Office of the General Counsel, intelligence officials cited the “Israeli example” as justification that “torture was necessary to prevent imminent, significant, physical harm to persons, where there is no other available means to prevent the harm.”
The “Israeli example,” which refers to the “ticking time bomb” scenario, raises the conclusions reached by the Landau Commission in 1987 and ensuing Supreme Court rulings allowing the use of “moderate physical pressure,” against terror suspects when there is a pressing need to obtain information quickly that can prevent an attack.
Referring to the “ticking time bomb” scenario, a CIA attorney wrote that “enhanced techniques could not be preapproved for such situations, but if worse came to worse, an officer who engaged in such activities could assert a common-law necessity defense if he were ever prosecuted.”
The report, which was commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee, claimed that CIA interrogation methods were “brutal and far worse” than revealed CIA officials to lawmakers. The report claimed that the CIA gave “inaccurate” information to Congress and the White House.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who headed the intelligence panel and ordered the release of the report, went so far as to claim on Tuesday that CIA practices in some cases amounted to “torture.”
US President Barack Obama said in a statement that the report revealed a “troubling program.” He vowed to make sure that “we never resort to those methods again.”
Sens. Jim Risch (R-ID) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that the report is in no way “serious or constructive” and that its release “could endanger the lives of Americans overseas.”
Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) slammed the release of the report, issuing a joint statement on Tuesday.
“As we have both stated before, we are opposed to this study and believe it will present serious consequences for US. national security,” they said.
“Regardless of what one’s opinions may be on these issues, the study by Senate Democrats is an ideologically motivated and distorted recounting of historical events. The fact that the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program developed significant intelligence that helped us identify and capture important al-Qaeda terrorists, disrupt their ongoing plotting, and take down Osama Bin Ladin is incontrovertible. Claims included in this report that assert the contrary are simply wrong.”