Director's Statement on the CIA’s Terrorist Interrogation Program
Statement to Employees by Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, General Michael V. Hayden on the CIA’s Terrorist Interrogation Program
October 5, 2007
Yesterday, the press reported a classified Department of Justice opinion from May 2005 dealing with CIA’s terrorist detention program. The story has sparked considerable comment, including claims that the opinion opened the door to more harsh interrogation tactics and that information about the interrogation methods we actually have used has been withheld from our oversight committees in Congress. Neither assertion is true.
As this issue continues to play out publicly, there are some important things you should bear in mind:
First, the CIA’s terrorist interrogation effort has always been small, carefully run, and highly productive. Fewer than 100 hardened terrorists have gone through the program since it began in 2002, and, of those, less than a third have required any special methods of questioning. The Agency has over the years taken custody only of those terrorists thought to have information on potential attacks or unique insights into the workings of al-Qai’da and its affiliates. The United States and its allies have used the priceless intelligence from these men to disrupt plots, unravel networks, and save lives.
Second, this vital counter-terror initiative has been subject to multiple legal and policy reviews, inside CIA and beyond. The Agency has worked closely with the Department of Justice and others in our government to ensure that the interrogation program operates in strict accord with US law and takes full account of any changes to the law. We have been proactive in seeking opinions that anticipate new legislation or fresh interpretations of existing laws and treaties. We serve a democracy of laws, and we underscore our place in that democracy by acting in keeping with the law. As Director, I also have a special obligation to protect the skilled, seasoned, dedicated officers who have run this challenging effort. A clear, sustainable legal foundation for their work is the best way to do that.
Finally, a sustainable interrogation program requires not only direction and guidance from the Executive Branch, but support from Congress. Our oversight committees have been fully and repeatedly briefed on CIA’s handling of detainees. They know the exceptional value that comes from the careful, lawful, and thorough questioning of key terrorists. They know what we do, and what we do not do—and we do not torture. They also know the lengths to which CIA, and our government as a whole, has gone to place and keep this source of intelligence collection, our most valuable in terms of al-Qai’da, on a sound and solid legal footing.
The American people expect us to meet threats to their safety and security, but to do so in keeping with the laws of our nation. That is something on which we as intelligence officers also insist, and something in which all of us can and should take pride.