2005 CIA Officers Letter to Senator John McCain Against Torture

07 Other Atrocities, Ethics, Government
Robert David STEELE Vivas
Robert David STEELE Vivas

Former CIA Director, Former CIA Counterterrorism Director, 31 Other Intelligence Experts Announce Support for McCain Anti-Torture Amendment to Defense Bill

Letter Delivered to McCain as Defense Bill Conferees Prepare to Meet

Washington, DC – Former CIA Director Stansfield Turner, former CIA Counterterrorism Center Director Vincent Cannistraro, and 31 retired CIA and other professional intelligence and interrogation experts today wrote Senator John McCain (R-AZ), announcing their support for his anti-torture amendment and rejecting any exceptions to its ban on cruel treatment.  Vice President Dick Cheney and CIA Director Porter Goss have heavily lobbied Congress to exempt CIA operatives from the McCain amendment’s ban on cruel and inhumane treatment when conducting covert operations abroad.

“In the public debate over your amendment, some have argued that CIA interrogators should be exempt from the standards of decency and law that guide the actions of our military in battle and reflect our national values,” the letter said (read full letter text). “They argue that the U.S. must retain ‘flexibility’ to act outside accepted standards in dealing with hardened enemies, on the presumption that violent and abusive tactics are the best way to successfully interrogate these prisoners.  We reject this view…. We support your amendment to restore clarity and honor to US interrogation policy.”

The McCain amendment would reinstate the Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogations as the binding rules for interrogation of anyone in Department of Defense custody and would make clear that U.S. personnel (including the CIA and private contractors) are bound by law to refrain from torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees. The Senate passed the McCain amendment overwhelmingly as part of both the defense appropriations and authorization bills, but neither House version of the defense bills contained the McCain language.

The timing of the letter supporting the McCain amendment is crucial; members of the House-Senate conference committees for both the defense appropriations and defense authorization bills are expected to meet any day.  Immediately following the appointment of the defense appropriations committee members, the ranking Democrat on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, U.S. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), is expected to make a motion to instruct conferees to accept the McCain language.

“Those who press for the ‘flexibility’ to abuse prisoners have been willing to forsake both effectiveness and our values as a nation on the misguided belief that abusive treatment will produce vital intelligence.  But interrogation in the real world rarely resembles what we see on television or in the movies,” the letter concluded.  “Serious efforts to extract intelligence from captured prisoners are not the stuff of television drama.  This task requires research, native language skills, and developing sustained relationships with the targets of interrogation. Abusive tactics make developing these relationships more difficult; instead, they tend to induce a subject to tell an interrogator whatever he or she thinks the interrogator wants to hear.  Once these barriers are built up, opportunities for obtaining reliable information from a target usually all but disappear, and vital information is permanently lost.”

Signatories to the letter include:

Robert Baer, former Case Officer, Directorate of Operations, CIA

Vincent Cannistraro, former director, CIA Counterterrorism Center

Kathleen Christison, former Analyst, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA

William Christison, former National Intelligence Officer and Director, Office of Regional & Political Analysis, CIA

Richard Clarke, former advisor, National Security Council

Ray Close, former Chief of Station Officer, CIA

Vicki Divoll, former Assistant General Counsel, CIA

Graham Fuller, former Vice-Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, CIA

Melvin A. Goodman, former Analyst, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA

Philip Giraldi, former Case Officer, Directorate of Operations, CIA

Michael Grimaldi, former Analyst, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA

Ralph M. Hockley, Col. USA (ret), former intelligence officer

Arthur S. Hulnick, former intelligence officer, US Air Force, formerCIA

Larry C. Johnson, former Analyst, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA

Edward R. M. Kane, former Chief of Station, CIA

Cameron La Clair, former Executive Officer of Area Division, CIA

W. Patrick Lang, Col. USA (ret), Chief of DIA Middle East Division, Director Defense Humint [Human Intelligence] Services

Lynne A. Larkin, former Case Officer, Directorate of Operations, CIA

David MacMichael, former National Intelligence Council officer, CIA

Tom Maertens, former analyst, Intelligence and Research, Department of State

Eugene A. Manning, former Analyst, Office of National Estimates, Directorate of Intelligence, and Counterintelligence Center, CIA

James Marcinkowski, former Case Officer, Directorate of Operations, CIA

John E. Marsh, former Case Officer, Directorate of Operations, CIA

Richard McDermott, former Army Counterintelligence Special Agent

Ray McGovern, former Analyst, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA

David Rupp, former Case Officer, Directorate of Operations, CIA

Gareth A. Shellman, former intelligence analyst, U.S. Army Security Agency

John P. Sontag, former intelligence analyst, CIA and Department of State

Lewis R. Sorley, former Director, National Intelligence Emergency Support Office, CIA

Stansfield Turner, former Director of Central Intelligence

Robert David Steele Vivas, former clandestine officer, CIA

Amb. (ret) Philip C. Wilcox, Jr., former Ambassador at Large for Counter Terrorism at Department of State

Austin Yamada, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism