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Obama administration will not prosecute CIA interrogators: Panetta

[JURIST] Nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] Leon Panetta [profile] said Friday that the Obama administration will not prosecute CIA officials who used harsh interrogation techniques, reiterating testimony [JURIST report] he gave Thursday. After a second day of confirmation hearings [materials] before the US Senate Intelligence Committee [official website], Panetta told reporters that he would not prosecute Bush administration officials [AP report] because they were following legal orders. Panetta also backtracked on testimony he gave Thursday, saying that that while the Obama administration would not engage in the same type of extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] seen under the Bush administration, they would continue to send detainees abroad, but only on the condition that they be treated humanely.

President Barack Obama [official profile] nominated [JURIST report] Panetta to lead the CIA last month. Panetta has served as a Congressman, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) [official website] Director, and White House Chief of Staff. Panetta will replace current CIA director Michael Hayden [JURIST news archive], who has agreed to stay on [press release] and cooperate fully until the transition is complete. Last month, Admiral Dennis Blair, nominated [press release] by Obama for Director of National Intelligence, stressed his respect for civil liberties and lawfulness [JURIST report] in intelligence investigations during testimony [text, PDF] before the Intelligence Committee.

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