CIA Director Defends Interrogation Techniques, Bypasses Issue of Torture

World | December 12, 2014, Friday // 11:03|  views

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The director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) John O. Brennan defended on Thursday CIA officers who had been accused of using brutal interrogation tactics against al-Qaeda suspects.

Brennan described CIA interrogators as “patriots” and criticised only those that went beyond the bounds of the Justice Department rules, The New York Times reports.

In a speech at CIA's headquarters in Langley, Brennan responded to the conclusions of the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The report concluded that the CIA detention programme had gathered little valuable information, and that the CIA had deceived the White House and Congress on the efficacy of the programme.

Brennan said that the detention programme had value, even if it is “unknowable” whether useful information was obtained as the result of the use of brutal interrogation tactics.

US President Barack Obama had previously condemned the use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, shackling prisoners in painful positions, and locking them in coffin-like boxes, as these amounted to torture.

Brennan refused to label these tactics as torture, contradicting an earlier statement in 2009, when serving as Obama's top counterterrorism adviser he had said that the use of interrogation methods such as waterboarding were not in line with the values and ideals of the US.

The director praised the response of the CIA to the 11 September 2001 attacks, while agreeing with the conclusions of the Senate Intelligence Committee that the agency was unprepared for its new role and performed poor supervision of the detention programme in its first years.

While Brennan acknowledged the efforts behind the Senate report, he criticised the investigation as “flawed”, “partisan” and “frustrating” and pointed to several disagreements he had with the conclusions.

With taking this stance on the efficacy of the interrogation tactics, Brennan tried to appeal to both Senate Democrats who argued that the brutal techniques were useless in preventing major terror plots or capturing leaders of al-Qaeda, and former CIA officials who said that these methods were central to counterterrorism successes since 2001.

Brennan said that in a few cases interrogators had used methods that had not been authorised, but the majority of the officers carried out their duties according to the legal and policy guidance they had been provided with.

White House officials claim that the CIA director, who has been one of the closest advisers of Obama, still retains the confidence of the president.

The press secretary of the White House John Earnest said on Thursday that Brennan was a “patriot”.

One of Brennan's predecessors, former CIA director Leon Panetta has been more vocal in his criticism against the interrogation tactics, condemning them as torture.

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Tags: US, CIA, detention programme, interrogation, Torture, al-Qaeda, John Brennan, Barack Obama, Senate Intelligence Committee, report


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