Video: Ex-CIA lawyer declares “my conscience is clear” over waterboarding

posted at 11:21 am on January 10, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

If Robert Gates thought his memoir would be the most explosive book published at the start of the new year, he could find himself disappointed. John Rizzo, who spent decades at the CIA and was involved in some of the most controversial issues of that era, has begun PR work for his memoir Company Man. Rizzo’s most controversial decision was to write a memo that got the Bush administration to approve waterboarding as a technique to break resistance to interrogation, a decision for which Rizzo expresses no regret — in the book or in this interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell:

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“Extraordinary measures had to be taken,” John Rizzo said about the now-illegal technique, which he asserts was not inhumane.

“No, if it had been torture, we wouldn’t have done it,” he told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

Rizzo recounts the genesis of the waterboarding program along with numerous other stories from his three decades at the spy agency in his memoir, “Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA.”

Waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning, was front and center in a debate over the “enhanced” interrogation methods used on al Qaeda terrorist suspects following the attacks of September 11.

Rizzo won Justice Department approval for the practice but said the program originated from the CIA with him and a few others.

Frankly, I was a little surprised by the light tone taken in this clip by Mitchell. It may well be that the argument has gone on so long that it’s now mostly an opportunity to just revisit the competing sides on interrogation techniques as a caught-in-amber moment, but it only closed out five years ago. Plus, this is the man who pushed the idea that it was not torture and therefore legitimate — a claim Rizzo explicitly makes in this interview again, even sans the ticking-time-bomb qualifiers that many take in reluctantly supporting Rizzo’s position.  The International Spy Museum and James Bond references are pretty glossy and lightweight considering the subject matter available in this book, no?

The Gates memoir might do better within the Beltway, but I’ll bet the Rizzo memoir sells better outside of it. Who doesn’t want a peek inside the CIA? Especially since Rizzo doesn’t hesitate to dish on Hollywood:

Much of his book, Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA, tells the previously-guarded tales of clandestine operations including their frequent partnerships with Hollywood stars.

In the book, read by MailOnline, the connection between the CIA and the movie business was recently publicized by the film Argo, but Mr Rizzo’s book shows that their partnerships were more than just some creative storyboards and false movie advertisements. …

Mr Rizzo recalled an interesting conversation with the CIA employee who was the handler for this particular actor: ‘The actor refuses to take any money, but he told us that instead all he wants is for us to score him the best fifty-thousand-dollar stash of cocaine we can find. He seems to think we can get the real primo stuff. So that’s why I’m here. Is it okay for us to do it?’ he recalled the unidentified agent asking.

Mr Rizzo shot down the request and said that the actor ended up helping the agency free of charge.

And the Clintons:

He repeatedly slammed President Clinton and said that after he was elected ‘it was increasingly apparent that President Clinton couldn’t care less about the Agency or the rest of the intelligence community’. …

His most damning critique came when he told how the Democratic President sent then-First Lady Hillary Clinton to attend the funeral for a fallen operative in his place.

Mr Rizzo called the move ‘the most hurtful presidential snub I witnessed in my entire career’.

‘Bill Clinton, our new president, couldn’t find the time to make the ten -minute trip from the White House to the CIA to pay his respects. He sent his wife instead. It was an unforgivable slight from a man who had famously told the American people during his just-completed campaign, “I feel your pain,”’ Mr Rizzo wrote.

We’ll see who sells more … and whether anyone takes the opportunity to approach it seriously.


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Bmore

Schadenfreude on January 10, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Making someone feel a certain way when their life is not in jeopardy is torture huh? Then I guess our troops are tortured as part of their training.

I love the moral high ground that verbaluce takes. I wonder from whence he/she derives it? If I engage in terrorism I can be expected to be treated FAR worse than we treat our detainees.

You are making up morals and then demanding that we agree you are a “better person” for them. Sorry, bub but thats all in your head.

ANYONE fighting our troops without a uniform can be *summarily shot* according to the Geneva conventions. Many soldiers were executed on the spot in WWII as spies.

DavidM on January 10, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Okay, verbaluce is obviously gone to his “conference” now.

(That’s the one I’d bet rogerb will use “forever”)

Since he’s not available, would anyone else be interested in a thread survey?

I’m interested in knowing what percentage of people think verbaluce was either unaware that Leon Penetta disclosed the Enhanced Interrogation Methods were instrumental in locating and killing UBL or that he was aware but thought that we were such stupid hicks, that he could blow smoke up our 4th points of contact with a link to a Rumsfeld piece inaccurately trying to assert Donald also claimed EIT was ineffective?

hawkdriver on January 10, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Shock and Awe in its name only was torture according to verbaldouchebaggery.

CWchangedhisNicagain on January 10, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Since he’s not available, would anyone else be interested in a thread survey?

I’m interested in knowing what percentage of people think verbaluce was either unaware that Leon Penetta disclosed the Enhanced Interrogation Methods were instrumental in locating and killing UBL or that he was aware but thought that we were such stupid hicks, that he could blow smoke up our 4th points of contact with a link to a Rumsfeld piece inaccurately trying to assert Donald also claimed EIT was ineffective?

hawkdriver on January 10, 2014 at 2:01 PM

I take the bolded option.

And I had forgotten that Panetta had said that although I knew it had been disclosed that EIT was effective.

Bitter Clinger on January 10, 2014 at 2:37 PM

ANYONE fighting our troops without a uniform can be *summarily shot* according to the Geneva conventions. Many soldiers were executed on the spot in WWII as spies.

DavidM on January 10, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Well that is how I would handle it. First I would ask who wants to spill their guts and live in a nice cell for the rest of their lives and who wants to get shot with bullets dipped in bacon grease and then buried in a mass grave with pigs. You never know. Someone might start spilling their guts.

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 10, 2014 at 2:39 PM

I also oppose allowing the US government to gain intelligence by collecting COMMINT on American citizens through rubber stamped wire-tap warrants. Just curious, what’s your opinion on that?

blink on January 10, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Well … the “rubber stamped” part sort of gives it away :)

There are exigencies of war. That doesn’t mean that I am happy to watch some traitor in office use those same arguments for establishing some sort of de facto martial law (or anything close) by abusing those powers in situations that don’t call for them. Of course, when you have people who are willing to call a sky-scraper a “chair” because it has a flat roof that a person can sit on, then you have nothing left – no law, no language, no anything. At that point you need to divorce from those who support such BS and start a new nation that has respect for the law and the word of plain language. In such a nation I certainly support collecting intelligence on part of the citizenry, when in war and when they are allied with our enemies.

Your question is not really relevant in this respect. There are no laws, at all, that Barky and his junta would follow and there are no people willing to hold any of them accountable (as we have all seen over and over and over). In such a “nation”, nothing is possible, since all “law” is farce. The solution in that case (as we are in, right now) is more about a national divorce from this tyranny that is without law, reason, or self-respect of any sort (and totally anti-American) than about establishing what sort of governmental architecture should be operative. There is no decent architecture when it is Rule by Retarded Tyrant Who Hates the Citizenry and a cowed “opposition”.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on January 10, 2014 at 2:51 PM

I am against inflicting pain or terror..e.g. the iminent threat of death or great harm.

verbaluce on January 10, 2014 at 1:23 PM

So … you consider JFK to have been an evil war criminal, I guess …

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on January 10, 2014 at 2:53 PM

I’m interested in knowing what percentage of people think verbaluce was either unaware that Leon Penetta disclosed the Enhanced Interrogation Methods were instrumental in locating and killing UBL or that he was aware but thought that we were such stupid hicks, that he could blow smoke up our 4th points of contact with a link to a Rumsfeld piece inaccurately trying to assert Donald also claimed EIT was ineffective?

hawkdriver on January 10, 2014 at 2:01 PM

I would guess he has heard, probably even from sources he would usually trust, but it has passed through one ear and out of the other, so he has effectively strategically ‘forgotten’ it, since it doesn’t fit the leftist narrative. That should count as intellectual dishonesty, especially when it’s his SOP as it is with most of the clueless Left (as opposed to the malevolent Left).

fadetogray on January 10, 2014 at 3:00 PM

I’ve long maintained similar views as Rizzo’s.

Lourdes on January 10, 2014 at 4:56 PM

I get tired of that dishonest meme that torture or enhanced interrogation doesn’t work. It works just fine.

Blake on January 10, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Yes, agreed.

And I’m definitely gonna’ buy Rizzo’s book. Also Gates’.

Lourdes on January 10, 2014 at 4:57 PM

Torture is having to watch Moochelle plow through a crate of lobster with her wood chipper jowels while you starve.

Ha, that’s a classic comment if ever I’ve read one. Classic.

Lourdes on January 10, 2014 at 4:59 PM

(Or maybe Cheney had ravens.)

verbaluce on January 10, 2014 at 12:03 PM

Lourdes on January 10, 2014 at 5:05 PM

verbaluce on January 10, 2014 at 12:03 PM

You’re so full of crap, it’s spouting out your ears.

Bitter Clinger on January 10, 2014 at 12:09 PM

What “Bitter Clinger” wrote there ^^, those are the words I was searching earlier for…

Lourdes on January 10, 2014 at 5:07 PM

I am against inflicting pain or terror..e.g. the iminent threat of death or great harm.

verbaloon on January 10, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Those who were “tortured” (in your Low-Info Democrat view) by waterboarding had absolutely no problem with causing hundreds of people in the WTC to have to chose between burning to death or jumping a thousand feet to their deaths.

Why is your only concern with our enemies?

Del Dolemonte on January 10, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Let me ask you one more time. Are you sticking with your assertion that enhanced interrogation techniques did not yield actionable intelligence in the mission to kill UBL?

Yes or No?

hawkdriver on January 10, 2014 at 1:01 PM

verbaluce, the Left, WOULD reply “YES” if the conditions were changed to these:

“Would you assert that enhanced interrogation techniques do yield actionable intelligence in the mission to nationalize all industries and provide housing, food and ‘healthcare’ to everyone?”

Lourdes on January 10, 2014 at 5:18 PM

verbaluce on January 10, 2014 at 12:03 PM
You’re so full of crap, it’s spouting out your ears.

Bitter Clinger on January 10, 2014 at 12:09 PM

….he has to *wear* toilet paper!

KOOLAID2 on January 10, 2014 at 5:20 PM

verbaluce loathes enhanced interrogation, claims it’s immoral, but I bet he/she is very, very keen about abortion.

Lourdes on January 10, 2014 at 5:23 PM

verbaluce, the Left, WOULD reply “YES” if the conditions were changed to these:

“Would you assert that enhanced interrogation techniques do yield actionable intelligence in the mission to nationalize all industries and provide housing, food and ‘healthcare’ to everyone?”

Lourdes on January 10, 2014 at 5:18 PM

He will say nothing on the subject again. Being pushed into a situation where he definitively is shown to be incorrect, he will avoid addressing the subject again. He’ll wave his hands in front of his face and pretend the exchange with the folks in this thread never occurred today. He owes rogerb and others many answers he will not provide because he was not able to back out of being shown that he was wrong.

He went to a “conference” today which came up a time conveniently scheduled to prevent him from answering “the” question. He will never be the bigger man and comment later and admit that he was wrong. He can’t. Intellectual honesty is not part of their DNA.

hawkdriver on January 10, 2014 at 5:31 PM

verbaluce loathes enhanced interrogation, claims it’s immoral, but I bet he/she is very, very keen about abortion.

Lourdes on January 10, 2014 at 5:23 PM

Verb’s a bigot who would load us all on trains if given half a chance.

CurtZHP on January 10, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Facepalm.
(rogerb will keep this one forever.)
 
verbaluce on January 10, 2014 at 1:26 PM

 
Bit of an obsessed fan.

rogerb on January 10, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Funny thread in that link, btw.
 

We’re not laughing with your understanding of important issues.
 
rogerb on January 16, 2013 at 5:29 AM

rogerb on January 10, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Lourdes on January 10, 2014 at 5:18 PM

He will say nothing on the subject again. Being pushed into a situation where he definitively is shown to be incorrect, he will avoid addressing the subject again. He’ll wave his hands in front of his face and pretend the exchange with the folks in this thread never occurred today. He owes rogerb and others many answers he will not provide because he was not able to back out of being shown that he was wrong.

He went to a “conference” today which came up a time conveniently scheduled to prevent him from answering “the” question. He will never be the bigger man and comment later and admit that he was wrong. He can’t. Intellectual honesty is not part of their DNA.

hawkdriver on January 10, 2014 at 5:31 PM

Intellectual honesty is not part of their DNA.

Yes, you are so right. I see that proven out time and time again on the internet by the Left — the ONLY thing they do prove, that they’re dishonest. Also mostly always “anonymouse” and using anony proxies.

Lourdes on January 10, 2014 at 6:26 PM

Verbaluce, when you check back in. (And I know you will). You were owned here today. You were served. Any one single Conservative commenter here is a better debater than you. That’s not braggadocio. It’s just easy when truth and facts are on the side you argue.

hawkdriver on January 10, 2014 at 10:14 PM

If you could play full court basketball fifteen minutes later without pain and without any degradation in physical ability, it ain’t ‘torture’.

Mental and emotional distress caused by something that causes no physical harm is not ‘torture’.

That is, not unless you legally redefine the word ‘torture’ to mean something other than what it has meant for a very long time. You know, like redefining the words ‘marriage’ and ‘racism’.

Or unless you take literally the statement that being forced to watch Justin Beiber ‘perform’ for more than 30 seconds is ‘torture’. Come to think of it, maybe they should have forced these mass murdering Muslim terrorists to watch old Madonna videos continuously and non-stop for hours and hours until they broke.

farsighted on January 10, 2014 at 11:24 PM

After waterboarding, they should have shot all of the Gitmo terrorists.

Instead of releasing them …to return to terrorism.

And to join in the killing of our ambassador in Benghazi.

Those who set these returned terrorists free should be in Gitmo also.

Criminal incompetence if not insane crypto-treason.

profitsbeard on January 11, 2014 at 3:33 AM

If you could play full court basketball fifteen minutes later without pain and without any degradation in physical ability, it ain’t ‘torture’…

farsighted on January 10, 2014 at 11:24 PM

The Left considers it torture if terrorists are “denied” gourmet meals on a daily basis and a new soccer court.

Lourdes on January 11, 2014 at 10:39 AM

When the first glimpse at the Gates book emerged, I was jazzed to read the tome and in fact pre-ordered it. But then, upon reading the excerpts, it became clear that Gates was only ocassionally dipping a toe across the line. It became clear, quickly, that he was contradicting himself. I would much rather read the book by a real spook who actually knows sheet from Shinola.
From the excerpts I’ve read, it appears as though Mr. Gates goes to great lengths to parse his words and winds up contradicting himself. It’s almost as though he was walking through a mine field – slowly and carefully choosing his steps.
He could have done the country, and especially the Military, a favor by being 100% candid and forthright. In the Military, the saying goes:
~ No sense in half-steppin’ ~
Anyone want to know what CIA “waterboarding” is all about?
Been there, experienced that. Name, Rank, Serial Number. PERIOD.
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on January 11, 2014 at 11:32 AM

► FACT: “Waterboarding” ISN’T “TORTURE”!
► FACT: There is no physical pain.
► FACT: There are no broken bones.
► FACT: There is no tissue damage.
► FACT: There are no lacerations.
► FACT: There are no burns.
► FACT: There is no bleeding.
► FACT: There is no blood loss.
► FACT: There is no permanent physical damage.
► FACT:Does it SCARE the bejeezus out of the “waterboardee”??
► FACT: Only sometimes. You either have a spine of steel or GTFO out of the Military.
Forget the wimpy vids you might see on YouTube, it’s child’s play compared to the real thing.
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on January 11, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Aw, shucks.
 
I’d write more but I’m late for a conference.

rogerb on January 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM

NEVER FORGET: It was Gates who was all for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” despite the heads of every branch of the Military disputing his fiat.
What a PC wimp. He disgusts me.
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on January 11, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Aw, shucks.

I’d write more but I’m late for a conference.

rogerb on January 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM

lol

Please make it a favorite.

hawkdriver on January 11, 2014 at 2:34 PM

hawkdriver on January 10, 2014 at 12:18 PM

For all of which there still is zero evidence…but there are man(y) dead SEALs.

Schadenfreude on January 10, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Do you not believe that OBL is dead?

I am against inflicting pain or terror..e.g. the iminent threat of death or great harm.

verbaluce on January 10, 2014 at 1:23 PM

These things that we have evidently decided are no longer a threat would ethnically cleanse neighborhoods in iraq by raping women to death and leaving their bodies out, strapped to booby traps so whomever tried to cover them up would be killed. They strapped explosives on to unaware women with downs syndrome and sent them into pet markets to target children to blow them up, leaving a river of blood and guts. They left hundreds of shoes with feet still in them all over lower Manhattan after they made secretaries decide whether it would be better to jump from a 110 story building or burn to death.
How about having a little empathy for the victims and the people who are trying to keep you safe, rather than just showing empathy for the things that are out to do that?

V7_Sport on January 12, 2014 at 3:39 AM

NEVER FORGET: It was Gates who was all for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” despite the heads of every branch of the Military disputing his fiat.
What a PC wimp. He disgusts me.
~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on January 11, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Yes, I have not forgotten that but I am also now thinking Gates was told (“ordered” so he says Obama/Biden took to declaring) to do so. It’s far more likely Gates’ actions and statements were Gates doing what he was “ordered” to do.

The “ordered” thing: it was on FOX last night/earlier this morning that in Gates’ book, he reveals how when Obama/Biden took office, they declared they “order” military to do-whatever respectively and how that language and behavior by any Administration was so unusual as to be ugly (no President uses that language nor needs to).

I haven’t yet obtained a copy of Gates’ book but will as soon as possible, like next week if it’s available nearby then.

Lourdes on January 12, 2014 at 9:51 AM

But then, upon reading the excerpts, it became clear that Gates was only ocassionally dipping a toe across the line. It became clear, quickly, that he was contradicting himself. I would much rather read the book by a real spook who actually knows sheet from Shinola.
From the excerpts I’ve read, it appears as though Mr. Gates goes to great lengths to parse his words and winds up contradicting himself. It’s almost as though he was walking through a mine field – slowly and carefully choosing his steps.

(…)

Karl Magnus on January 11, 2014 at 11:32 AM

No ‘real spook’ (though Gates certainly does qualify as one) could write such a book with such lucidity. Gates, with his credentials, could make this attempt but obviously, there’s great peril and risk involved.

I agree that Gates “could have done the military great service” by (a variety of revelations, in this book or any other) but I also think that the military and Gates understand the jeopardy involved in public exposure beyond that carefully-worded-text method.

I am heartened by now-retired military now speaking out, however, specifically, a few retired generals taking to the airwaves.

Lourdes on January 12, 2014 at 9:54 AM

How about having a little empathy for the victims and the people who are trying to keep you safe, rather than just showing empathy for the things that are out to do that?

V7_Sport on January 12, 2014 at 3:39 AM

VERY WELL SAID. Bravo.

Lourdes on January 12, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Obviously, the nation is under, let me put it mildly, very mildly here, duress intentionally inflicted from the top as to our national security and our relationship with Allies.

It’s on everyone’s lips: there’s a python in the henhouse.

Lourdes on January 12, 2014 at 9:59 AM

I am against inflicting pain or terror..e.g. the iminent threat of death or great harm.

verbaloon on January 10, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Is this your definition of torture? It is important to define our terms so we know what we are discussing.

If waterboarding is, in fact, torture, why is it okay to use it in training our own troops? Do you support torturing our own military, and oppose using those same techniques against those who would wipe out our entire country if given the opportunity?

DrMagnolias on January 13, 2014 at 3:10 PM

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