Brennan 'never expressed concerns over waterboarding' - former top CIA lawyer
Waterboarding is a method of torture in which a restrained individual’s face is covered by a water-soaked cloth. Further water is then poured over it, forcing the individual to experience a sensation of ‘dry drowning.’
Rizzo, a Central Investigation Agency’s lawyer who retired in 2009, has declared that Brennan knew of the 'enhanced interrogation techniques' the CIA used, but voiced no moral objections whatsoever, despite a sort of friendship between the two and Rizzo’s office being just “15 feet away.” The lawyer also heard no objections from the FBI, or elsewhere.
“I just never heard from him directly or ever heard that he had expressed any concerns to colleagues,” Rizzo said. “I've talked to other agency veterans. Because to tell you the truth, it did mean something to me.”
The comments came on Monday night during a panel discussion of the film 'Zero Dark Thirty' at Cardozo Law School, hosted by Jeffrey Brown, an anchor at PBS Newshour.
'Zero Dark Thirty' is an American film based on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, in which a CIA officer subjects detainees to various tortures, including waterboarding. Other ‘interrogation techniques’ employed by the organization, as the film revealed, have included placing detainees in ‘stress positions’ for more than 40 hours and subjecting them to extremes of temperature.
The Senate Intelligence Committee recently launched an investigation into whether filmmakers had inappropriate access to information, with screenwriter Mark Boal claiming that the movie accurately portrayed the unfolding of events, based on CIA-sourced information.
Honoring the “longtime” friendship, Rizzo proceeded with caution in his criticisms: “The fact of the matter is, he never told – he never expressed any concerns to me… I would have liked to have thought he would have done so, or at least I would have heard about them, because that would have had a great impact on me, because I have great respect for him.”
Rizzo said he had expressed concern about the CIA to some agency colleagues about other forms of torture and humiliation, such as nudity.
“I professed my personal objections to it," he told senators last week. “But I did not try to stop it because it was something that was being done in a different part of the agency.”
Reuters reported earlier this month that classified CIA message exchanges demonstrated that Brennan had knowledge of the CIA's use of 'enhanced interrogation techniques,' including waterboarding. He publicly renounced the practice in 2005, and said that he also had objected to the practice in private.
“I voiced those objections privately with colleagues at the agency…when I left the agency, I spoke publicly about those concerns,” he wrote in a submission to the intelligence committee, according to Reuters.
But in a major hearing with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on February 7, Brennan stopped short of describing waterboarding as torture. He slammed the practice as “reprehensible,” and “something that should not be done.”
The vote on Brennan’s nomination is expected Thursday in the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) have already threatened or hinted that they intend to hold up his nomination for reasons pertaining to intelligence on the US consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya, and the US drone program. However, according to US media estimations, there is very little doubt that his confirmation will be met by any serious challenge.
“I think [Brennan]'ll be an excellent CIA director,” Rizzo concluded.