WASHINGTON - Days after a report on George W. Bush-era interrogation techniques concluded that intelligence agencies employed tactics widely regarded as torture, top officials from the Bush White House took to the Sunday morning talk shows to bash the report as partisan and defend the actions of the CIA and other intelligence agencies.
"We needed to do something different, and this was something different, and it worked very well," Jose Rodriguez, who was a top CIA official during the Bush administration, said in an interview with Fox News Sunday. He added, "All of these techniques were approved by the lawyers."
Current and former intelligence officials have been sharply defensive of CIA tactics in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and have insisted that declassifying a report that details counterterrorism tactics puts intelligence agents and troops participating in ongoing efforts at risk.
"This report throws the CIA under the bus. It throws under the bus all of those people who worked so hard to prevent another attack," said Rodriguez, who was one of several Bush administration officials who suggested that the release of the report could embolden enemies abroad.
Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press, former Vice President Dick Cheney invoked the memory of the 9/11 attacks when discussing the interrogation techniques, insisting that what U.S. intelligence agents did to extract information from terrorism suspects was not torture. "I'd do it again in a minute," Cheney said, backing the CIA's interrogation program and insisting that some techniques described in the newly released report, specifically "rectal feeding" of some detainees, were done for medical reasons.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was subjected to torture when he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, remains the most prominent Republican to support the release of the report and to criticize the practices detailed in the report as torture. "Some of these practices fly in the face of everything that America stands for," McCain said on CBS's Face the Nation.
The report disputed claims by CIA and Bush administration officials that advanced interrogation techniques were directly linked to the capture and killing of terror leader Osama bin Laden. It also raised new questions about whether the CIA lied to Congress and the White House about the techniques, a suggestion that Bush-era officials roundly rejected.
Like Cheney, Karl Rove, who was his deputy chief of staff, defended specific techniques that many critics consider torture. During his interview with Fox News Sunday, Rove insisted that the report was flawed because the investigators did not talk to top intelligence officials.