CIA Chief Defends Interrogation Methods

CIA Director John Brennan calls some of the agency's torture techniques "abhorrent” but defends the program overall.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

CIA director John Brennan
CIA director John Brennan
Reuters

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan on Thursday addressed the revelations contained in a comprehensive report released this week about the agency’s use of enhanced interrogation methods from 2002 to 2009, ABC News reported, calling some of the techniques "abhorrent” but defending the program overall.

The report accused the CIA of using unauthorized interrogation techniques to extract information from detainees, including using power drills, mock executions, forced-feeding and threats against their families.

In his opening remarks at an unusual live news conference, Brennan said the United States looked to the CIA to provide guidance on how to deal with al Qaeda in the chaotic days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“As has been the case throughout its then-54 year history, CIA was looked to for answers,” he said. “Not only to the questions on the threats we faced but also to questions about what we were going to do to stop future attacks.”

Brennan said that the agency was ill-prepared for the task it was given, calling the interrogation program “uncharted territory” and adding that the agency had little experience housing and interrogating detainees.

“This was a workforce that was trying to do the right thing," he said, according to ABC News.

The study asserted the torture methods did not yield information from detainees that could not have been acquired in other ways, and that the CIA misled the Bush administration about what exactly the enhanced interrogation program was.

Brennan did not deliver a full-throated defense of the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques, but rather said it was unclear whether or not their use led to crucial information in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other terrorists.

“Let me be clear: We have not concluded that it was the EITs within that program that allowed us to obtain useful information from the detainees subjected to them,” he said.

He did, however, call some of those techniques "abhorrent.”

Brennan also revealed his personal belief that “the use of coercive methods has a strong prospect for resulting in false information because if somebody’s been subjected to coercive techniques, they may say something to have those techniques stopped.”

Brennan would not say whether he agreed with the Obama administration’s decision to make a summary of the full Senate report public. When pressed to share his belief in the interest of transparency, Brennan responded that the level of transparency in the past days has been “over the top.”

In defending the CIA’s interrogation program, Brennan has joined former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden, who wrote a 2,500-word rebuttal in the Wall Street Journal this week.

After the report was released this week, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, called for the prosecution of those responsible for the "criminal conspiracy" revealed in the report.

This includes senior U.S. government officials who authorized the harsh interrogation tactics, said Emmerson.

"It is now time to take action," Emmerson said in a statement. "The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today's report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes."


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