Some CIA officers used “abhorrent” methods on detainees, the agency’s head admits.
US Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan said Thursday it was “unknowable” whether the harsh interrogation techniques yielded useful intelligence, Reuters reported.
Brennan rejected the conclusion of a US Senate report detailing the CIA’s use of torture on detainees after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. The report said the agency had deceived the White House, Congress and the public about its interrogation program.
“Our reviews indicate that the detention and interrogation program produced useful intelligence that helped the United States thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives,” Brennan told a news conference.
“But let me be clear. We have not concluded that it was the use of EITs [enhanced interrogation techniques] within that program that allowed us to obtain useful information from detainees subjected to them.”
Senior officials from then president George W. Bush’s administration have defended the methods, which President Barack Obama banned when he took office in 2009.
“We know we have room to improve,” Brennan said. “In light of the fact that these techniques were abandoned seven years ago, however, my fervent hope is that we can put aside this debate and move forward to focus on issues that are relevant to our current national security challenges.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report found the CIA acted more brutally and pervasively than it has acknowledged.
Some captives were deprived of sleep for up to 180 hours, at times with their hands shackled above their heads, and the report recorded cases of simulated drowning, or “waterboarding”, and sexual abuse, including “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” without any documented medical need.
“In a limited number of cases, agency officers used interrogation techniques that had not been authorized, were abhorrent and rightly should be repudiated by all. And we fell short when it came to holding some officers accountable for their mistakes,” Brennan said.
The committee concluded that the CIA, through torturing al-Qaeda and other captives in secret prisons worldwide between 2002 and 2006, did not obtain information it could have obtained through non-coercive means that would enable it to disrupt a single al-Qaeda plot.
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