The Department of Justice made the prisoner abuse detailed in the CIA torture report possible, former U.S. Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora said Thursday. By crafting the legal boundaries that allowed the CIA to brutally interrogate terror suspects, federal lawyers violated their professional duties, he said.
“What a different place we’d be in today if the Department of Justice had not performed so abominably and abdicated its professional responsibilities to the country, to the president, to the agencies, and had provided quality legal advice on these kinds of issues,” Mora told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “We would not have entered into the torture programs that the nation entered into.”
Conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the report found that CIA tactics employed against “detainees” in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists attacks were ineffective. The committee’s findings detailed several tactics President Barack Obama described as “troubling,” including rectal feeding and hydration, waterboarding, sleep deprivation and “rough takedowns.” At least one detainee died as a result of the tactics.
CIA Director John Brennan publicly addressed the report Thursday in a 45-minute press conference, repeatedly referring to the allegations of CIA torture as “enhanced interrogation techniques.” He acknowledged the CIA sometimes provided “inaccurate” or “imprecise” information on the program to the public, but denied charges that agency officials outright lied or that the techniques were ineffective.
“In many respects the program was uncharted territory for the CIA, and we were unprepared,” Brennan said, according to USA Today. “But the president authorized the program six days after 9/11, and it was our job to carry it out.”
Mora acknowledged there were “laudable aspects” of Brennan’s speech, but criticized the CIA director for failing to use the word “torture” at any point during his comments. He called on Brennan to re-evaluate CIA tactics to fall in line with America’s values.
“Unless the director is able to understand what the law and our values categorize this behavior as, then he’s going to have to be told, or we’re going to have to find a new director in order to lead this agency, because we need to be very clear about the law and what our principles requires and how we classify these activities going forward,” Mora said.