The book, titled "Rebuttal," was published as a counter to last year's damning report from the Senate Intelligence Committee, which portrayed the CIA interrogation program as gruesome, ineffective and poorly run.
In the book, three former CIA directors and other retired senior officials argue that the Senate report, which was written by Democratic staff and opposed by Republicans, significantly distorted reality, the Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, said the book has numerous inaccuracies.
Such disagreement is typical of the debate over the interrogation program to date. Yet, the divide still has major implications going forward.
As it stands, torture is banned under an executive order from President Barack Obama, but that could be undone by his successor. Therefore, Congress is considering legislation that would ban such brutal interrogation techniques.
The measure has been attached to a defense bill, and has the support of Democrats, as well as Senator John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee and once a prisoner of war in Vietnam, the AP reported.
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) September 9, 2015
Republican presidential candidate and former Texas Governor Rick Perry said if elected, he would revive the CIA's so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques." Another Republican candidate, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, has not ruled out doing so.
Polls, meanwhile, show that the majority of the American public believes the CIA was justified in engaging in torture, the AP reported.
In "Rebuttal," Jose Rodriguez, who was head of the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center after 9/11, argues that waterboarding by the CIA was just like that used in training on American special operations troops.
He said he was "convinced" that when Obama called waterboarding torture, he meant the method used by the Spanish Inquisition, or the Japanese during World War II, or the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia – not the technique used in US military training.
But CIA records show that the agency carried out waterboarding on Abu Zubaydah and two other detainees in a way that was far different from anything used in training.
During one session, Zubaydah became "completely unresponsive with bubbles rising through his open full mouth," according to internal CIA records obtained by the AP. Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times, and his treatment reduced some on the CIA interrogation team to tears, agency records show.