OTR Interviews

Did enhanced interrogation - or torture - work for the CIA? Or did it hurt the US in Iraq and Afghanistan? Maybe a little of both

Sen. Lindsey Graham on the release of the Senate's report on CIA interrogation and its potential impact. #CIAReport


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 9, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: John McCain, who was prisoner of war himself, who was himself tortured, responded to today's release of the Senate Democrat's Intelligence Committee report. Senator McCain said, "The use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies." Senator McCain is not the only one who took to the Senate floor.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, CHAIRWOMAN, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Coercive interrogation techniques did not produce the vital, otherwise unavailable intelligence the CIA has claimed.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: The people involved believe they were trying to defend the country and what they were doing was necessary.

FEINSTEIN: It's about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, our rule of law.

GRAHAM: And sometimes good people make mistakes.

FEINSTEIN: History will judge us by our commitment to a just society governed by law and the willingness to face an ugly truth and say, "Never again."

MCCAIN: When we fight to defend our security, we fight also for an idea, not for a tribe or a twisted interpretation of an ancient religion or for a king, but for an idea that all men are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights.

How much safer the world would be if all nations believed the same? How much more dangerous it can become when we forget it ourselves, even momentarily.

FEINSTEIN: There are those who will seize upon the report and say, "See what the Americans did," and they will try to use it to justify evil actions or incite more violence.


VAN SUSTEREN: And Senator Lindsey Graham joins us. Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: This is one of those issues that people are so deeply divided and so passionate about but people on both sides are also incredible patriots.


GRAHAM: Well, the techniques employed after 911 were in response to fear of another attack. So the people are out there defending this nation, who had just been hit hard and we thought another one was coming another way. When you roll up some of these guys, you're very anxious to get out of them whatever you can to prevent the next attack. I understand why people did this.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is the difference between enhanced interrogation and torture?

GRAHAM: I think from a military lawyer's point of view, none. There are some enhanced interrogation techniques that probably don't violate the Detainee Treatment Act that are beyond the army field manual. The idea of limiting our interrogation techniques to the army field manual is pretty absurd. Because the army field manual is to make sure that Corporal Smith doesn't abuse a prisoner in the field. We need to allow our intelligence community and military intelligence officials some latitude interrogation beyond the army field manual but water-boarding in the military's point of view has been illegal as long as I have been a military lawyer.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did this work?


VAN SUSTEREN: This enhanced interrogation and torture, whatever you call it, did it work?

GRAHAM: I think we got some information that was valuable. The best information came from long-term detention, so we put the puzzle together by having these guys behind bars for years and they began to talk to us. One thing I can tell you it did do also, it hurt us in Iraq. It hurt us in Afghanistan and throughout the region. And you just don't have to take my word for it. Call up General Petraeus, General Allen, the people in charge of the war efforts and they will tell you that this episode hurt our efforts over there.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where is the signatory to a treaty in the U.N. about no torture?

GRAHAM: We are the signatory to the convention against torture. We are the leading sponsor of the Geneva Convention which talks about how to treat people under your charge when you capture them. And the point I would like to make is I think we can win this war within our values and I think we must. We have a lot going for us that our enemy doesn't. We are actually good people and they are bastards.

VAN SUSTEREN: Here is the convention against torture that Ronald Reagan signed in 1984 in part says there are no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether state of war or threat of war, the internal political instability or any other public emergency may be invoked as a justification of torture. Now, it doesn't say enhanced interrogation says of torture, which is why I asked you what's the difference? But I assumed that signed on so we adhere to it in order to have leadership in the world.

GRAHAM: Let's be a lawyer here for a moment. The convention wasn't a criminal statute.

VAN SUSTEREN: I didn't think it was.

GRAHAM: Now, the Detainee Treatment Act was a result of interrogation techniques being exposed. There is now clear guidance in American law under the Detainee Treatment Act that without law, water-Boarding and other techniques called enhanced interrogation that I think violate what we are about and who we are. And at the end of the day, I'm trying to distinguish ourselves from our enemies. They crucify people, they rape women, they sell them into slavery, they will kill people's children before their eyes. At the end of the day, that has back fired on them. I promise you we can win this war within our values.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.

GRAHAM: Thank you.