Former CIA Directors: Holder's Investigation Could 'Help al Qaeda'

Former CIA directors urge Obama to reverse Holder's decision to investigate.

ByABC News
September 18, 2009, 3:17 PM

Sept. 18, 2009 -- Seven former CIA directors have asked President Obama to use his authority to reverse Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to re-open the criminal investigation into the CIA's post 9/11 interrogations of suspected terrorists.

Over-ruling an attorney general on a criminal investigation would be an extraordinary move, but the former directors contend Holder's investigation will ultimately "help Al Qaeda elude U.S. intelligence and plan future operations."

The letter sent to the president on Friday was signed by CIA directors who served under Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43.

The letter warns that the investigation will hinder the CIA's counter-terrorism efforts by discouraging risk-taking by agents now in the field, publicly revealing more information about the CIA's operations, and hindering relations with foreign intelligence agencies.

The former directors contend that Holder's investigation could "help Al Qaeda."

"[T]he administration must be mindful that public disclosure about past intelligence operations can only help Al Qaeda elude U.S. intelligence and plan future operations. Disclosures about CIA collection operations have and will continue to make it harder for intelligence officers to maintain the momentum of operations that have saved lives and helped protect America from further attacks," the directors write.

Two former CIA directors who did not sign: Robert Gates and George HW Bush.

"The Attorney General's decision to order a preliminary review into this matter was made in line with his duty to examine the facts and to follow the law," said Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller. "The Attorney General works closely with the men and the women of intelligence community to keep the American people safe and he does not believe their commitment to conduct that important work will waver in any way."

Here's the text of the letter.


September 18, 2009

Dear Mr. President:

We have served as Directors of Central Intelligence or Directors of the CIA for Presidents reaching back over 35 years. We respectfully urge you to exercise your authority to reverse Attorney General Holder's August 24 decision to re-open the criminal investigation of CIA interrogations that took place following the attacks of September 11. Our reasons for making this recommendation are as follows.