Jane Mayer has already responded to my piece this morning, telling Mike Allen of Politico in an email that “[Thiessen] cites John Brennan as a supporter of his torture obsession” and “cites Panetta as a fan.” This is more sophistry from Mayer. I did not write that Leon Panetta and John Brennan supported enhanced interrogations; I quoted them both as admitting they worked. Mayer wrote in her review of my book that CIA interrogations “yielded no appreciable intelligence benefit.” Her claim is so absurd that even the Obama administration officials who shut down the program disagree with her. In fact, as I point out, virtually everyone who has seen the intelligence — supporters and opponents alike — disagree with Mayer’s assessment of the program’s effectiveness.
Critics like Mayer want to have it both ways. As former CIA director Mike Hayden has said, “Most of the people who oppose the techniques want to be able to say, ‘I don’t want my nation doing this’ — which is a purely honorable position — ‘and they didn’t work anyway.’ That back half of the sentence isn’t true.”