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Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said interrogation tactics revealed in a report released by the Senate on Tuesday were not legally torture, but “we knew as bad as these people were we were doing this to fellow human beings.”

In its report, the Senate Intelligence Committee determined that CIA interrogation techniques, employed for days or weeks at a time, never led to "imminent threat" intelligence — the figurative ticking time bomb often cited as justification. In some cases, the means were counterproductive, according to the report.

But Hayden, director from 2006-2009 under former President George W. Bush, disputed that finding.

“Information gained from this program, and from detainees was absolutely part of the fabric of information that the agency used to go after Osama Bin Laden,” he told NBC News’ Brian Williams on Nightly News Tuesday. “Frankly, in my experience, we learned so much from these people. It kind of created this Home-Depot-like warehouse of knowledge about al Qaeda to which we continually referred.”

He also noted that he got involved “very late in the (CIA interrogation) program and endorsed their use going forward in a very minimized form.”

“As bad as some people think CIA behavior was, with regard to these 100-or-so detainees, if everyone on the planet used CIA behavior as the model, the overall treatment of detainees on earth would actually improve,” he said, later adding, We knew as bad as these people were we were doing this to fellow human beings. So, don't ever forget that.”


— Miranda Leitsinger