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Fact Check: Interviews Would Have Added Little to CIA Interrogation Study

Comprehensive review of 6.3 million pages of records provided overwhelming detail, including contemporaneous interview transcripts

Washington—The absence of new interviews by the Senate Intelligence Committee, conducted years after the CIA detention and interrogation program had ended, would not have changed the story told in the 6.3 million pages of CIA documents reviewed for the detention and interrogation study.

In January 2008, Attorney General Michael Mukasey opened a formal criminal investigation into the destruction of CIA videotapes and appointed DOJ Special Prosecutor John Durham to conduct that investigation.

Senator Feinstein said the following during her remarks on the Senate floor on December 9, 2014:

“On August 24, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder expanded that review. This occurred six months after our study had begun.

Durham’s original investigation of the CIA’s destruction of interrogation videotapes was broadened to include possible criminal actions of CIA employees in the course of CIA detention and interrogation activities.

At the time, the committee’s Vice Chairman Kit Bond withdrew the minority’s participation in the study, citing the attorney general’s expanded investigation as the reason.

The Department of Justice refused to coordinate its investigation with the Intelligence Committee's review. As a result, possible interviewees could be subject to additional liability if they were interviewed.

The CIA, citing the attorney general’s investigation, would not instruct its employees to participate in our interviews. (Source: classified CIA internal memo, February 26, 2010).

Notwithstanding this, I am really confident of the factual accuracy and comprehensive nature of this report for three reasons:

First, it’s the 6.3 million pages of documents reviewed, and they reveal records of actions as those actions took place, not through recollections more than a decade later.

Second, the CIA and CIA senior officers have taken the opportunity to explain their views on CIA detention and interrogation operations. They have done this in on-the-record statements in classified Committee hearings, written testimony and answers to questions, and through the formal response to the Committee in June 2013 after reading the Study.

And third, the committee had access to, and utilized, an extensive set of reports of interviews conducted by the CIA inspector general and the CIA’s oral history program.

So while we could not conduct new interviews of individuals, we did utilize transcripts or summaries of interviews of those directly engaged in detention and interrogation operations. These interviews occurred at the time the program was operational and covered the exact topics we would have asked about had we conducted interviews ourselves.

Those interview reports and transcripts included, but were not limited to, the following:

  • George Tenet, director of the CIA when the agency took custody and interrogated the majority of its detainees;
  • Jose Rodriguez, director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center (CTC), a key player in the program;
  • CIA General Counsel Scott Muller;
  • CIA Deputy Director of Operations James Pavitt;
  • CIA Acting General Counsel John Rizzo;
  • CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin; and
  • A variety of interrogators, lawyers, medical personnel, senior counterterrorism analysts and managers of the detention and interrogation program.”