CIA Directors Speak Out on Torture and Its Role in Intelligence Gathering

A revelatory documentary will air at the end of this month on Showtime featuring interviews from every living CIA director discussing the use of torture by the CIA in the past and their opinions on its use in the future.

Torture is a controversial topic, condemned by the United Nations and by U.S. law, however many, some CIA directors included, believe it to be a necessary evil in the never ending battle to keep the American people safe.

The documentary titled, “Spymasters- CIA in the Crosshairs” focuses specifically on the men who were responsible for overseeing U.S. intelligence gathering activities, especially in those moments when their efforts bordered on the extreme and methods that could be classified as torture were relied on.

The directors certainly disagree on tortures role in intelligence gathering. Director during the George W. Bush administration, Michael Hayden, states in the documentary trailer that the CIA only did what was necessary. While not outright advocating torture, he seems to suggest that there are times when there is no option but to rely on it.

“I just don’t think a country like ours should be culpable of conducting torture,” said Stansfield Turner, President Carter’s CIA director. “ I just think it is beneath our dignity and I think it is poor for our reputation in the world.”

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The documentary intends to explore that dichotomy, the balance between doing what is necessary and doing what is right. Regardless of its conclusions, the film comes at a perfect time in the wake of last December’s discussions on the CIA’s newly revealed reliance on torture in the past.

As for the CIA now, General Michael Hayden, CIA director under presidents Bush and Obama until 2009, had this to say.

“If some future president is going to decide to waterboard, he better bring his own bucket, because he’s going to have to do it himself. The Agency’s not going to do this again.”

The information presented in the documentary will hopefully keep the discussion going and force Americans to address the methods we use to gather intelligence and how those methods may or may not weigh on our collective conscience.