U.S. senator: CIA interrogation tactics helped get bin Laden

WASHINGTON Mon Aug 4, 2014 7:50am IST

A couple of Islamist protesters hold up a poster with a picture of Osama bin Laden that reads, ''Man humiliated Americans. He lives benign and died a martyr'' during a protest march at the main entrance of the state security headquarters in Cairo May 2, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Files

A couple of Islamist protesters hold up a poster with a picture of Osama bin Laden that reads, ''Man humiliated Americans. He lives benign and died a martyr'' during a protest march at the main entrance of the state security headquarters in Cairo May 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Files

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee will soon release a report asserting the CIA's use of harsh interrogation techniques helped bring down Osama bin Laden and disrupt terrorist plots, the panel's top Republican said on Sunday.

"Information gleaned from these interrogations was in fact used to interrupt and disrupt terrorist plots, including some information that took down bin Laden," Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Democrats who control the Senate Intelligence Committee are expected to issue their own report that alleges the CIA techniques, such as "waterboarding," did not help yield valuable intelligence and were not necessary.

The two reports will come five years after the committee authorized a probe into the CIA's possible use of torture after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

It is unclear when the Democrats' report will be released because Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the committee, has said she may challenge some redactions made by the Obama administration.

President Barack Obama, who banned the practices after taking office in 2009, said on Friday the CIA had "tortured some folks" during former President George W. Bush's administration.

"We did some things that were contrary to our values," Obama said.

Republicans on the committee have long disagreed with Democrats about the use of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, and they largely boycotted the committee's probe.

"I thought it was a mistake then. I still think it is a mistake," Chambliss said on CBS.

The investigation has been plagued with difficulties. The CIA conceded last week it had improperly monitored computers used by committee investigators looking into the torture allegations.

The revelation prompted two Democratic senators to call for the resignation of CIA Director John Brennan, who took over the spy agency last year.

Senate committee members appearing on Sunday television news shows did not call for Brennan's resignation, but said the CIA had committed a breach of trust that needed to be addressed.

Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, a survivor of torture, said on the Fox News program "Sunday Morning Futures" he was in some ways more concerned about the CIA spying on Senate staffers than the torture issue, and he called for an independent investigation.

U.S. Representative Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, warned against overreacting.

"I don't think this is some conspiracy notion that they wanted to spy on either of our committees. That would of course be intolerable. I think it would be a crime," Rogers said on CNN's "State of the Union."

But these were CIA computers at a CIA facility, he said. "That's a little bit different than spying on Congress."

Senator Angus King, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the CIA's biggest mistake on the interrogations was not being able to admit a mistake.

"They're still trying to justify it and argue it wasn't torture, which is nonsense," the Maine independent said on CNN. "I think we could put this behind us. But they keep, they keep trying to justify it. And it's unjustifiable."

(Additional reporting by Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Paul Simao)

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