Washington, D.C. – Seventeen of the nation’s most respected interrogation and intelligence professionals today released a statement expressing their opposition to torture, arguing that the practice is illegal, ineffective, counterproductive, and immoral. In a statement of principles released today, the experts – which include intelligence gathering professionals from the armed services, CIA, FBI, NCIS, and federal law enforcement, some of whom have interrogated core al Qaeda members – reaffirmed their commitment to effective interrogation procedures that best protect national security, adhere to international standards of detainee treatment, and are supported by behavioral science research.
“Torture and other forms of abusive or coercive techniques often serve to strengthen an individual’s resolve to resist, deepen his commitment to a cause, serve as a foundational theme for recruiting campaigns designed to attract others to violent extremism, and generate a lingering division among allies and international partners,” wrote the signatories of today’s statement. “In sum, it not only undermines an interrogator’s ability to elicit useful information, it also undermines our nation’s ability to counter threats to its security. Torture makes our nation less secure.”
They go on to state, “America has been threatened by ruthless, aggressive, and sophisticated adversaries in the past. The interrogation methods that have kept America safe for generations are sophisticated, humane, lawful, and produce reliable, actionable intelligence in any interrogation scenario. To promote a return to that respected level of professionalism, there must be a single well-defined standard of conduct — consistent with our values as a nation — across all U.S. agencies to govern the detention and interrogation of people anywhere in U.S. custody.”
The statement comes as Senate staff and the CIA are engaged in protracted discussions about the extent to which the committee’s report on the post-9/11 CIA torture program should be redacted. Ahead of the report’s release, the interrogation and intelligence professionals gathered this week in Washington, D.C., to meet with Senate intelligence committee staff about the report’s progress, brief Members of Congress and staff about the inefficacy of torture, and urge lawmakers to consider legislation to codify the further protections against torture and cruel treatment. The group has closely followed Senate intelligence report developments and have long been outspoken in their opposition to torture, which they say yields unreliable intelligence and endangers the nation. In August, some members of the group sent a letter to the president urging him to show leadership on the issue.
“We categorically affirm that there is no conflict between adhering to one of our nation’s essential and founding values — respect for inherent human dignity — and our ability to obtain the intelligence we need to protect the nation,” concluded today’s statement.
According to those familiar with the Senate intelligence committee’s report, its 600-page executive summary will provide details on the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” practices and set the record straight about the use of torture and whether it played a significant role in gaining actionable intelligence post 9/11. In an 11-3 bipartisan vote cast in April of this year, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify the report, a step the White House has publicly supported.