DNI message to the intelligence community workforce on the release of the SSCI report
Today, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report on the detention and interrogation program. In all of my experience in intelligence, I am hard-pressed to recall another report—and the issues surrounding it—as fraught with controversy and passion as this one. Virtually no one who has any familiarity with the report and what it describes is “neutral.” The rebuttal to the majority report issued by the minority on the Committee is but one example of strong alternative views. Proponents of publication ardently believe that the report must be issued to cleanse a stain on the pages of our history, and to ensure that the practices it describes are never repeated. Others, with equal conviction, believe that the report is unfair and biased; fails to account for the immediate impact of the attacks on 9/11—on American citizens and on those in government charged with protecting the country; and will result in greater jeopardy to American citizens, facilities and interests overseas.
The officers who participated in the program believed with certainty that they were engaged in a program devised by our government on behalf of the President that was necessary to protect the nation, that had appropriate legal authorization, and that was sanctioned by at least some in the Congress. But, as President Obama has made clear, some things were done that should not have been done —and which transgressed our values. We recognized this ten years ago and stopped the program as it was originally conducted; even more important, we have since enacted laws, implemented Presidential orders and established internal policies to ensure that such things never happen again.
I don’t believe that any other nation would go to the lengths the United States does to bare its soul, admit mistakes when they are made and learn from those mistakes. Certainly, no one can imagine such an effort by any of the adversaries we face today. In the months leading up to today’s publication, we went through an exhaustive, good-faith dialogue with the Committee to reach a mutual agreement on what could be said publicly about the program, consistent with the enduring need to protect national security. We made unprecedented efforts to enable the release of as much of the Committee’s report as possible.
Now that the report is public, there is certain to be much discussion of its contents—and of the alternative views of the program and the period during which it operated. That discussion will go on, but the critical imperative for all of us who are privileged to work as members of the Intelligence Community is to remain sharply focused on our missions and the work before us. We must sustain our vigilance to deal with the myriad threats and challenges that face the nation, including any that may arise in the coming days as a possible reaction to the report. The women and men of the CIA specifically, and of the Intelligence Community generally, have helped to keep this nation safe for nearly 70 years. That remains our ultimate mission; it reflects the trust that Americans have always placed in us. I have every confidence that we will continue to meet those expectations and honor that sacred trust, just as we have always done.