WASHINGTON -- As the nation’s intelligence communities brace for the Senate’s explosive report on the CIA’s now-defunct torture program to be made public, officials are warning that its release in the midst of the Islamic State fight could put American lives at risk, according to former CIA Director Michael Hayden.
“American embassies and other installations around the world have been warned to take defensive action in anticipation of this report being released,” Hayden cautioned Monday on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe." “That is somewhat troubling.”
Hayden's concerns follow public reports of other officials pointing to risks for overseas U.S. personnel since the Senate Intelligence Committee first voted in April to publicly release parts of its behemoth study on the post-9/11 program. The committee voted 11-3 to make public the 500-page executive summary of its five-year, $40 million study.
Since then, the release has been delayed by a protracted dispute over the report's declassification review, in which the White House and CIA are fighting to keep secret certain information that the Intelligence Committee wishes to release.
In April, two of the dissenting committee members, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and James Risch (R-Idaho), cited secret warnings to the committee from the State Department, which they said cautioned that the public identification of former CIA black sites and cooperative governments could foster anti-American sentiment overseas.
“The Senate Intelligence Committee today voted to send a one-sided, partisan report to the CIA and White House for declassification despite warnings from the State Department and our allies indicating that declassification of this report could endanger the lives of American diplomats and citizens overseas and jeopardize U.S. relations with other countries. Therefore, we could not support declassification of this product at this time,” the two senators said in a joint statement following the committee’s April vote, as reported by The Daily Beast.
On Monday morning, Hayden also vehemently defended the CIA’s actions. He said he understood if Democrats didn’t want to use so-called enhanced interrogation techniques -- which have been widely denounced as torture -- but he said there was no denying they were effective.
“These tactics, techniques and procedures actually worked in gaining valuable information. Whether or not they succeeded, that’s historical fact,” said Hayden, who led the CIA from 2006 to 2009. “The record at the agency shows quite clearly ... that they were [successful].”
But several Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, including Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), have disputed such claims throughout the investigation and writing of the report. The study reportedly finds that no information was gained through enhanced interrogation techniques that could not have otherwise been acquired through other means and that harsh methods, including waterboarding, were ineffective.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) also challenged Hayden’s concerns about the report’s release. Although he said Monday that he hadn’t yet seen Hayden’s interview, he suggested that the report’s public version will adequately shield the identities of American personnel involved in the interrogation program.
“I think it's very important that you use the pseudonyms and that you eliminate any identifying information about individuals,” he said.
Last month, Wyden told The Huffington Post that he takes protecting undercover operations very seriously and that the notion that the Intelligence Committee was carelessly putting lives at risk was untrue.
“I don’t take a backseat to anybody when it comes to protecting personnel,” he said in October.
Donte Stallworth and Sarah Harvard contributed reporting.