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US intelligence chief defends CIA interrogation methods

[JURIST] US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell [official profile] insisted Sunday that the "United States does not engage in torture" [transcript; recorded video], but refused to elaborate on the specific methods used during enhanced interrogations of terror suspects. In an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," McConnell said that revealing the specific measures would aid those who want to resist the measures:

I would rather not be specific on eliminating exactly what the techniques are with regard to any, any specific. When I was in a situation where I had to sign off, as a member of the process, my name to this executive order, I sat down with those who had been trained to do it, the doctors who monitor it, understanding that no one is subjected to torture. They're, they're treated in a way that they have adequate diet, not exposed to heat or cold. They're not abused in any way. But I did understand, when exposed to the techniques, how they work and why they work, all under medical supervision. And one of the things that's very important, I think, for the American public to know, in the history of this program, it's been fewer than 100 people. And so this, this is a program where we capture someone known to be a terrorist, we need information that they possess, and it has saved countless lives. Because, because they believe these techniques might involve torture and they don't understand them, they tend to speak to us, talk to us in very—a very candid way. ...

Let me just leave it by saying the, the techniques work, it's not torture. They're not subjected to heat or cold, but it is effective. And it's a psychological approach to causing someone to have uncertainty and in a situation where they will feel compelled to talk to you about what you're asking about. ...

I would not want a U.S. citizen to go through the process, but it is not torture, and there would be no permanent damage to that citizen.
McConnell was responding to questions concerning a new executive order [text] prohibiting "cruel and inhuman" treatment during the interrogation of detained terror suspects signed [press release; JURIST report] by US President George W. Bush. In May, an investigator for the UN Human Rights Council accused the United States of committing human rights violations [JURIST report], and said that the "enhanced interrogation methods" constituted torture under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text]. Also in May, Amnesty International reported in its 2007 annual report on human rights [text] that the "war on terror" has eroded human rights [JURIST report] in the US and other western nations. AP has more.

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