In one of many appearances over the past two days, former CIA director Michael Hayden told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer rectal rehydration and feeding, as documented in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, is not torture, but rather, “a medical procedure.”
Blitzer, looking off one of the documents, read that “at least five detainees were subjected to rectal rehydration or rectal feeding. There is at least one record of Abu Zubaydah receiving rectal fluid resuscitation for partially refusing liquids.”
Following up, “The Situation Room” host asked if what happened was “legal” or a form of “torture.”
“No, it’s a medical procedure is what it is…But I have learned that in some instances, one way that you can get nourishment into a person is through this procedure as opposed to intravenous feeding which involves needles and a whole bunch of other dangerous things,” Hayden told Blitzer, adding that force-feeding is a technique still used at Guantanamo Bay.
Wolf Blitzer: Here’s one of the documents. It’s pretty harrowing: ‘CIA officer ordered that a man, Gul Rahman, be shackled to the wall of his cell in a position that required the detainee to rest on the bare concrete floor. Rahman was wearing only a sweatshirt. The next day the guards found Gul Rahman’s dead body. Rahman likely died from hypothermia, in part from having been forced to sit on the bare concrete floor without pants.’ That sounds like torture.
Michael Hayden: Well, first of all, it was not part of the high value detainee program. It happened in Afghanistan at a site run by an inexperienced CIA officer. Shame on us. We put this young man in a position for which we had not prepared him. It was reported to the Justice Department. In fact, the high value detainee interrogation program that this report says it is telling you about, it is a product of how CIA mishandled some of these early battlefield detentions in Afghanistan. In short, Wolf, the program I went down to explain to the Congress in 2006 and 2007 was the program we put in place because of mistakes like the one with Gul Rahman.
Blitzer: Let’s talk about some of the other pretty brutal things that came out of this report. it states this — we all knew, by the way, about the waterboarding, the sleep deprivation. But it then goes on and says this: ‘at least five detainees were subjected to rectal rehydration or rectal feeding. There is at least one record of Abu Zubaydah receiving rectal fluid resuscitation for partially refusing liquids.’ Is that legal? Is that torture?
Hayden: No, it’s a medical procedure is what it is. Now, Wolf, I’m learning about this somewhat too, because as you know, almost all of this took place before I became director. But I have learned that in some instances, one way that you can get nourishment into a person is through this procedure as opposed to intravenous feeding which involves needles and a whole bunch of other dangerous things. Let’s not forget, as we speak, the current government of the United States is using force-feeding on detainees at Guantanamo who also are refusing to eat.
Blitzer: Is that rectal though?
Hayden: No, it’s not. And I’m not prepared to tell you why one method was chosen over another at some point in the past. I would think, though, that before making that kind of accusation, somebody may have wanted to go talk to someone and actually get their explanation as to why and when and for what purpose it was done.