The Corner

CIA’s Brennan: ‘Unknowable’ If Torture Provided Vital Intel, But It Might’ve Helped Find Bin Laden

Alternating between an apologetic and defiant stance today, CIA director John Brennan said it was “unknowable” if the agency’s enhanced-interrogation techniques provided crucial intelligence — but added that such techniques may have helped find Osama bin Laden.

Brennan was compelled to comment on the now-defunct program by this week’s release of a Senate report condemning the CIA’s “torture” of detainees during the first few years after the 9/11 attacks. 

That report claimed there is no evidence any type of actionable intelligence was gleaned from such tactics. While walking a fine line on the issue, Brennan appeared to disagree.

“Detainees who were subjected to EITs [enhanced-interrogation techniques] at some point during their confinement subsequently provided information that our experts found to be useful and valuable in our counterterrorism efforts,” the director said. “And the cause-and-effect relationship between the application of those EITs and the ultimate provision of information is unknown and unknowable.”

“But for someone to say that there was no intelligence of value — of use — that came from those detainees once they were subjected to EITs?” Brennan said. “I think that lacks any foundation at all.”

That intelligence of value apparently extended to the 2011 raid that killed 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. “Detainees who were subjected to enhanced-interrogation techniques provided information that was useful — and was used — in the ultimate operation to go against bin Laden,” Brennan said, before again adding that he is “not going to attribute that to the EITs” specifically.


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