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At CIA confirmation hearing, Brennan facing tough questions on leaks

- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2013

President Obama's nominee to head the CIA, White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan, said Thursday he is concerned by allegations of mismanagement and misrepresentation of a George W. Bush-era program to capture, imprison and interrogate terrorism suspects.

Testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Mr. Brennan was questioned about a 6,000-page classified report on the program that was produced after a six-year investigation by committee staff.

"There clearly were a number of things that I read in the report that concerned me greatly and that I would look into if confirmed," Mr. Brennan told Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and committee chairwoman.

He added the report, adopted by the committee at the end of last year, alleged "mismanagement of the program" and "misrepresentation of its activities."

Mr. Brennan later told Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican and committee vice chairman, that the report cast doubt on what he believes he had known about the interrogation program.

"Reading the committee's report, I have serious concerns now about the information I was getting at the time [about the efficacy of the program] … right now, I don't know the truth," Mr. Brennan said.

He said the report charges that "inaccurate information was put forward" about the results of the program, under which captured terrorism suspects were subjected to harsh interrogation techniques, including some the Red Cross calls torture.

The CIA is studying the report and is expected to respond to it shortly.

"I am eager to see the agency's response," said Mr. Brennan, adding that the report raises questions about "serious systemic issues" within the agency.

Sen. John Rockefeller III, West Virginia Democrat, noted that at a meeting before the hearing Mr. Brennan had professed himself "shocked" by the contents of the report.

"That in itself to me is shocking … that we have to tell you what is going wrong in your agency," said Mr. Rockefeller.

The senator lambasted the detention, interrogation and rendition program as "mismanaged, run by individuals with no relevant experience ... [and] corrupted by individuals with pecuniary interests."

Mr. Rockefeller, who chaired the intelligence committee for several years in the last decade, charged that the results of the program had been consistently misrepresented by certain former officials he did not name.

They "were and still are heavily invested in defending the program because their professional reputations are dependent on it," Mr. Rockefeller said, charging they had "done us a great disservice."

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