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Sen. Tom Coburn: Some CIA interrogation "could be considered torture"

by Chris Casteel Published: April 3, 2014

WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Thursday that he voted “present” on declassifying portions of a report on CIA torture. Coburn, R-Muskogee, said he didn’t vote for or against declassifying the report sections because he was not on the committee when the report was approved.

The committee voted Thursday to declassify the report’s 480-page executive summary and 20 findings and conclusions from a five-year study of the CIA Detention and Interrogation Program, which involved more than 100 detainees between September 2001 and January 2009.

Coburn said Thursday, “I agree that some of the more extreme Enhanced Interrogation Techniques could be considered torture and that in the future this country should not rely on such techniques.

“Yet, at the time, they had legal sanction. Readers of the report will make their own judgments about how they were implemented. I believe that the CIA acted imperfectly, but in good faith and under great urgency to prevent an attack from a little understood enemy that had brought devastation to our shores.

“The Committee report and its supporters judge a period in history. However, I believe the Committee failed in its mission to understand, analyze and provide recommendations on the essential role of detention and interrogation intelligence in addressing ongoing threats.

“Many modern and western nations have learned that detainee intelligence — both its collection and resulting analysis — is critical and primary in addressing threats from organized armed groups.

“Had this report provided insights, guidance or recommendations on how to effectively conduct coercive but lawful interrogations against terrorist threats, it would have provided guideposts to the future, rather than just critiques of the past.

“Successful intelligence, after all, is about mitigating future threats.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairman of the committee, said the purpose of the review was “to uncover the facts behind this secret program, and the results were shocking. The report exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation. It chronicles a stain on our history that must never be allowed to happen. This is not what Americans do.

“The report also points to major problems with CIA’s management of this program and its interactions with the White House, other parts of the executive branch and Congress. This is also deeply troubling and shows why oversight of intelligence agencies in a democratic nation is so important.”

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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