Ex-CIA director defends rectal rehydration

Former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden on Thursday defended revelations from Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats that the agency used rectal rehydration on detainees.

“These were medical procedures,” Hayden said during a tense interview on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper." He added that the method was used because detainees were dehydrated, and that giving them intravenous fluids with needles would be dangerous.

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“I’m not a doctor,” he said. “What I am told is that this is one of the ways that the body is rehydrated.”

The Intelligence Committee report, released Tuesday, detailed a slew of abuses by CIA interrogators on prisoners, including one that involved detainees' food being blended and “rectally infused.” The report says the practice was used on at least five detainees, including two of the most infamous, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah.

There’s been debate over the force-feeding of detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba. But those detainees are sometimes fed through a tube that enters the nose and goes down the throat. 

Hayden said that the CIA performed the “activity” five times “for the health of the detainee, not part of the interrogation program.” But the Senate Intelligence Committee report says that it was done “without medical necessity.” And in the report’s description of one of Mohammed’s interrogation sessions, it says that the interrogator wanted to demonstrate “total control over the detainee.”

The former CIA director immediately shifted into a critique of the report and what he said was an overreaction by Democrats.

“The Democrats on the committee have used one-half assed, unwarranted comment in one email to justify the story that you have now bought hook, line and sinker that we use this to abuse other human beings,” he said to CNN host Jake Tapper.

He added that the committee should have interviewed witnesses to get a more objective view, and slammed the report as biased. Hayden also disagreed with a statement from former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus, who said that the best way to glean information from detainees is to become their “best friend.”

“That’s a wonderful technique for a certain class of detainees,” Hayden said. “The burden of proof would be on Gen. Petraeus to say that’s the best technique to get information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”