Former CIA director insists torture report is flawed, defends the use of waterboarding



A former CIA director blasted that the Senate's report on alleged torture of terror suspects is fatally flawed and should never have been made public.

"I've read, in 45 years, quite a few government reports – this is the single most unfair and least balanced that I have ever seen," Ambassador James Woolsey told AOL News.

Woolsey headed up the agency under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1995. He claimed the 600-page torture manifesto did more harm than good by providing the country's enemies with even more fuel to pour on the fire of American hatred.

"When you turn it loose, it's not just the American public who knows, it's also the terrorists," he insisted.

The report details alleged incidences of abuse including waterboarding, forced rectal feeding, mock executions, sleep deprivation and even the death of one detainee that occurred at CIA black sites (secret prisons) around the world.

The ex-intelligence head believes the report should have been kept private for other reasons, including not a single person at the CIA being interviewed as part of the Senate's investigation.

"That's like a judge saying he will make a decision in the case, but he's not going to read anything that was stated by any witness, any human statement is not something he's going to consider, it has to be just a written memorandum," Woolsey said.

Woolsey insisted the Senate investigators decided against speaking to anyone at the CIA because key points made in the report would be refuted.

"They were afraid of what they were going to hear, they were going to hear something that contradicted their propensity," Woolsey said.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has acknowledged that the report was made entirely from documents, emails, intelligence cables and real-time chats.

Woolsey also disagreed with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) over the need for the report to be made public. McCain, who was tortured by the North Vietnamese while a POW during the Vietnam War, steadfastly backed his Democratic counterparts during an impassioned speech last week on the floor of Congress.

"I agree with a lot of [Senator McCain's] judgements on a lot of things, including aspects of this issue, but I don't think making this public was wise," said Woolsey. "Especially as biased as it is."

The former top spy feels the debate over alleged CIA torture is a valid one, but that it should have happened behind closed doors.

"I think that having a dispute inside the government on an issue like this is certainly important and valuable," Woolsey argued. "This is a tough problem where you have a clear conflict, in a way, between [ethics] and protecting the country.

"Obviously, we're not going to do just anything to protect the country," Woolsey continued. "On the other hand, in the aftermath of 9/11, it ought to be easy for some people to understand. "

Woolsey admitted some of the agents went "beyond the pale in several cases," but insisted they were "patriotic individuals who were trying to prevent another 9/11 from occurring."

Woolsey also steadfastly defended the use of waterboarding and mock executions, both opposed by McCain, because they are permitted within the confines of U.S. law. He does not believe the use of either tactics is torture.

"You do everything short of torture to get an individual like [self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to talk," insisted Woolsey.

The ex-spy chief did, however, condemn the agents who tortured a suspect to death by chaining him half-naked to a floor. The detainee died of hypothermia.

"That's terrible and is not the sort of thing that should be permitted, but should entail a potential punishment ... that's exactly the type of thing that should not be done, under any circumstances."

Political Junkies: CIA Torture Report
Political Junkies: CIA Torture Report

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