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John Brennan defends CIA, admits some techniques 'abhorrent'

By Danielle Haynes
CIA Director John Brennan defended the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques Thursday in reaction to a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the organization's use of torture. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
CIA Director John Brennan defended the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques Thursday in reaction to a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the organization's use of torture. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

LANGLEY, Va., Dec. 11 (UPI) -- In reaction to a Senate Intelligence Committee report released earlier this week, CIA Director John Brennan on Thursday defended the agency's use of what he described as enhanced interrogation methods, but admitted "abhorrent" techniques were used.

Speaking at a news conference at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., Brennan said the government turned to the CIA after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on how to handle al-Qaida, track down those responsible and prevent future attacks. He said the intelligence agency was in "uncharted territory."

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The Senate report determined the CIA's use of what it called unauthorized interrogation techniques provided little useful information, and often fabricated, non-actionable intelligence.

Brennan said he agreed 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." But the techniques also provided "useful" information, including intelligence that was used in the operation that led to the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

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"It is our considered view that the detainees who were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques provided information that was useful and was used in the ultimate operation to go against bin Laden," Brennan said.

"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 added.

Brennan said some CIA agents used techniques he described as "abhorrent," and in some cases unauthorized.

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"CIA officers' actions that did comport with the law and policy should neither be criticized nor conflated with the actions of the few who did not follow the guidance issued," Brennan said.

"There were no easy answers, and whatever your views are on [enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT)], our nation and in particular this agency did a lot of things right during this difficult time to keep this country strong and secure," Brennan said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, live tweeted during Brennan's news conference, pointing to details from 6,000-page report about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, or EITs. She encouraged her followers to #ReadTheReport.

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Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program by United Press International

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