There are now thousands of pages of declassified memos and reports that thoroughly rebut what Mr. Rodriguez and others are now claiming. For example, one of the successes of the E.I.T.s claimed in the now declassified memos is that after the program began in August, 2002, Abu Zubaydah provided intelligence that prevented José Padilla from detonating a dirty bomb on U.S. soil, and identified Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks. Mr. Rodriguez has been repeating this claims.
The reality is that both of those pieces of intelligence were gained by my partner and me, with C.I.A. colleagues, in early April, 2002—months before the August, 2002, start of the E.I.T. program. But in the memos they were able to promote false facts, even altering dates, to make their claims work. In the so-called C.I.A. Effectiveness Memo, for example, it states that Mr. Padilla was arrested in May, 2003. In reality, he was arrested in May, 2002. But saying 2003 fits with the waterboarding narrative. When the Department of Justice asked Steven Bradbury, acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and the author of the 2005 O.L.C. memo to reinstate E.I.T.s, why he didn’t check the facts, he replied, “It’s not my role, really, to do a factual investigation of that.”
The claim about waterboarding leading to unmasking of K.S.M. as the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks is similarly false. We got that information in April, 2002, before the contractors hired by the C.I.A. Counterterrorism Center even arrived at the site. One by one, the successes claimed by E.I.T. proponents have been shown to be false.
Once you have committed crimes of this gravity, there is a massive psychological need to justify them, and to buttress your legal defense against war crimes. If you have to lie to justify being a war criminal, you have to lie thoroughly. And you have to destroy or amend any evidence to the contrary. That's what Rodriguez has been doing, by destroying the tapes and changing the factual record. It's called obstruction of justice. It's also a crime.
But we live in a republic where the CIA is not considered governed by the rule of law – an alarming situation which has been legitimized by president Obama. In that sense, the CIA is a state unto itself. It is another country.
(Photo: Anti-Iraq war protesters act out water boarding torture on March 19, 2008 in front of the White House in Washington, DC, during a demonstration. By Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.)