Thursday, June 30, 2011

Udall to Support Petraeus Confirmation, but Raises Concerns about Petraeus’s Comments on CIA Interrogation Techniques

Today, Mark Udall, a member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees, announced that while he will support the nomination of General David Petraeus to head the Central Intelligence Agency, he has concerns about a statement Petraeus made in answer to a question about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. Udall voted for Petraeus in the Intelligence Committee earlier this week; the full Senate is scheduled to vote later today.

Petraeus has previously spoken out strongly against the use of interrogation techniques that go beyond those included in the Army Field Manual. But during his confirmation hearing, Udall asked whether the general sees torture any differently “in a CIA context than in a military context.” In response, Petraeus said that there may be an extraordinary circumstance in which torture is defensible. He also suggested that Congress debate this issue and come to a resolution about if and when additional interrogation techniques should be authorized to get information to prevent an imminent disaster.

Petraeus is a proven and honorable leader who is well-qualified to lead the CIA, Udall said, but his answers raise concerns. Noting that there is no law governing the CIA’s use of torture, Udall today suggested that Congress consider whether and how to re-examine the issue. Currently, only President Obama’s executive order – not a law – prohibits the CIA’s use of coercive interrogation.

Udall released the following statement:

“As one of the finest military leaders of our time, General Petraeus has developed great expertise and deep knowledge of the threats we face in the world. That experience and knowledge will serve Americans well as he leaves the military to head the CIA. I’m proud and honored to support his nomination.

“At the same time, I’m concerned about the general’s statement last week. While he has strongly opposed torture in the past, in his answer, he left the door open – and he suggested that Congress should provide more direction.

“I’ve long agreed with the statements of military leaders and experts – including past statements by General Petraeus himself – that torture doesn’t fit with American values, that it creates new enemies and, perhaps most importantly, that it isn’t effective. Given the general’s comments, I look forward to discussing this issue further with him in his new role and discussing with my colleagues whether and how Congress might re-examine the question of interrogation techniques at the CIA.”