Former Central Intelligence Agency director Michael Hayden on Sunday rejected accusations that the agency lied about its use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques just ahead of the release of the much anticipated "torture report" prepared by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is expected Tuesday. Hayden also asserted that not only are the report's conclusions not true, but it could be used as justification by terrorist organizations to attack U.S. personnel and facilities abroad, if released.
"To say that we relentlessly over an expanded period of time lied to everyone about a program that wasn't doing any good, that beggars the imagination," said Hayden on CBS's Face The Nation.
The report, which was only approved by the committee's Democrats (Republicans on the committee say they plan to release their own report), concludes that the CIA routinely exceeded legally allowable techniques to get information from detainees and that the techniques were not effective in obtaining it. Yet, the agency systematically lied to the White House, Congress and the Department of Justice about its efficacy in order to continue its operations.
Still, Hayden, who headed the CIA for the final years of the Bush administration, said he studied the program when he took over in 2006 and was unwilling to end it. "At the end of the summer I recommended to President Bush that we reduce the program, that we reduce the number of techniques, but that the program had been so valuable that we couldn't stop it altogether," he said. "Even though now we had so much more intelligence on al-Qaeda from the detainees and other sources, even then the program had proven its worth...in conscience, I couldn't take it off the table."