World Bulletin/ News Desk
John Brennan, President Barack Obama's nominee to head the CIA, had detailed, contemporaneous knowledge of the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on captured terrorism suspects during an earlier stint as a top spy agency official, according to multiple sources familiar with official records.
Those records show that Brennan was a regular recipient of CIA message traffic about controversial aspects of the agency's counter-terrorism program after September 2001, including the use of "waterboarding," sources said.
The official records, which include raw classified CIA operational message traffic, are silent on whether he opposed the techniques while at the spy agency, said sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. Brennan served as deputy executive director of the agency beginning in 2001.
After Brennan temporarily left government service in 2005, he publicly disavowed waterboarding and other physically painful techniques, often described as torture.
The depth of Brennan’s involvement in the program, and whether he vigorously objected to it at the time, as he claims, will likely be central questions lawmakers raise at his Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing, scheduled for Feb. 7.
Some former officials familiar with deliberations about the program stated they don't recall Brennan voicing objections to the use of harsh interrogation techniques.
But other former officials say Brennan was among agency officials who were uncomfortable with the use of physically coercive tactics, despite the legal opinions that supported their use. He expressed concern, according to these officials, that if details of the program became public, it would be CIA officers who would face criticism, rather than the politicians and lawyers who approved them.
Under the CIA program, captured militants were detained and interrogated in a network of secret CIA prisons. Sometimes they were delivered to foreign governments through an extralegal process called "extraordinary rendition."
But Mark Udall, one of three Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who met with Brennan on Wednesday, complained that he declined to discuss the panel's investigative report with them.
"I understand that he may not see it in his or the CIA’s interests to criticize the very agency that he hopes to lead, but I see this as an opportunity for Mr. Brennan to correct the record, institute the necessary reforms and help restore the CIA’s reputation for integrity and analytical rigor," Udall said in a statement.
This is the second time that Obama has sought to nominate Brennan to head the spy agency, and the second time that questions have arisen about his involvement in enhanced interrogation tactics when he was a CIA official during the administration of former President George W. Bush.
Brennan's candidacy for the top CIA job was derailed over the issue when he was an early front-runner for it after Obama's 2008 election victory.
Brennan instead became Obama's White House counter-terrorism adviser.Last Mod: 01 Şubat 2013, 11:24