Annapolis, Maryland is probably one of the last places you would expect to find a publisher that rocks the literary world. Yet Naval Institute Press did so in 1984, when it released the Hunt for Red October, the debut novel of the late Tom Clancy, the inventor of the techno-thriller. Twenty-one years later, this publisher has now released what might be the most important book on the topic of national security this year.
Rebuttal: The CIA Responds to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study of Its Detention and Interrogation Program tells the side of the story that Dianne Feinstein did not want America to hear. Major decision-makers who served under the last three presidents have provided a series of valuable essays that add context to the official CIA response and the views of the Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee that are published in this book. These essays alone are worth the book’s list price.
The book is, sadly, necessary. During Feinstein’s investigation, she never once interviewed any of the CIA Directors or Deputy Directors who were in office while the program was running. Nor did they talk to the man who ran the program, an American hero by the name of Jose Rodriguez, whose book, Hard Measures, is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the CIA’s program. The notion that an investigation without those interviews could be complete, much less fair, is laughable.
One cannot read the essay by Rodriguez – the last of those that introduce the two responses to Feinstein’s report – and not feel the sense of betrayal from Rodriguez at the hands of fellow Americans. Feinstein turned on the CIA in 2006, after having been supportive of the CIA’s efforts to get information from terrorists. In the 26 May, 2002 edition of the New York Times, Feinstein said about the post-9/11 situation, “It took that real attack, I think, to kind of shiver our timbers enough to let us know that the threat is profound, that we have to do some things that historically we have not wanted to do to protect ourselves.” A statement at CIASavedLives.com says, “Senator Feinstein did not object to the continued use of enhanced techniques from November 2006 to April 2007.” Her concerns were addressed at the time by then-CIA Director Michael Hayden. Hayden, who wrote one of the essays, notes that Feinstein approached the “study” with conclusions already in mind. Again, how could that investigation be called fair?
Yet unbelievably, the Senate has passed legislation based on the report that was the product of this flawed process. With a 78 to 21 vote on 16 June, the Senate passed the McCain-Feinstein Amendment that limits all interrogations of enemy combatant, even unlawful ones like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to techniques outlined in the Army Field Intelligence Manual (FM 2-0). Among the Republicans suckered into voting for that amendment was none other than Ted Cruz.
This hamstringing is also far worse than some might think. Not only did the 78 Senators who voted for the Feinstein-McCain Amendment choose to hamstring the CIA – apparently none of them realized that various editions of the “new” playbook of accepted techniques have long been available for purchase at Amazon.com! So, the CIA not only has a limited playbook, but that playbook is readily accessible to our enemies – and for any recruit or wannabe jihadist.
Whatever you think of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, this much should be beyond dispute: American patriots who had volunteered to serve their country did what their country asked of them in the wake of a horrific attack. They also succeeded in gaining valuable intelligence from high-ranking members of al-Qaeda, foiling plots and setting the stage for SEALs to deliver justice to Osama bin Laden. Their thanks from Senator Dianne Feinstein was to be stabbed in the back. Rebuttal is a must-read alongside Hard Measures and Marc Theissen’s Courting Disaster – if only to give a fair hearing to those heroes, which is the absolute minimum they deserve from us.
Rebuttal: The CIA Responds to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study of Its Detention and Interrogation Program, edited by Bill Harlow. Published by Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland. 344 pages, $16.95.