Commentary

By: Dianne Feinstein
Originally appeared in the Washington Post

The Senate Intelligence Committee last week released its report on the CIA detention and interrogation program, which in some cases amounted to torture. Since then, defenders of the program have been vocal.

But instead of disputing facts — supported by 6.3 million pages of the CIA’s own records — they are complaining about process.

The latest assault by Marc Thiessen, a Post columnist and former George W. Bush speechwriter, suggested the study is not comprehensive [“Sen. Feinstein lives up to Rolling Stone’s standards”]. That is absurd.

This is the most comprehensive oversight study ever conducted by the U.S. Senate.

In addition to millions of CIA cables, e-mails, memos, inspector general reports and other documents, committee investigators drew extensively on more than 100 interview transcripts of key CIA personnel, including Director George Tenet, Deputy Director John McLaughlin, Acting General Counsel John Rizzo and Counterterrorism Center Director Jose Rodriguez.

These interviews were conducted at the time the program was active — not years later and not subject to rationalization, revision or memory lapses. The committee would have liked to conduct additional interviews for further context, but because of a Justice Department criminal investigation, the CIA refused to compel personnel to participate.

The CIA also had ample opportunity to weigh in on the study. Key personnel testified before the committee, and the lengthy agency response was integrated into the final committee report.

I understand those involved may want to distance themselves from the terrible acts that were committed, but facts are facts. This study will stand the test of time and hopefully ensure that such mistakes are never made again.

Dianne Feinstein, Washington

The writer, a Democrat from California, is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.