- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - CIA Director Leon Panetta has tapped a retired Republican senator to help guide him through a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the agency’s Bush-era interrogation and detention practices.

Former Sen. Warren Rudman of New Hampshire will be Panetta’s special adviser for the Senate inquiry. Lauded for his bipartisan approach to politics, Rudman co-chaired a well-regarded counterterrorism commission a decade ago that predicted the United States was vulnerable to a terrorist attack on the homeland.

Panetta’s announcement comes a day after the leak of a secret 2006 International Committee of the Red Cross report that some of the CIA’s 14 most important prisoners_ alleged members of al-Qaida_ had been tortured in secret prisons.

The Senate inquiry aims to determine exactly what was done by the CIA, under what authority, whether the interrogations elicited useful information and what Congress knew at the time.

The investigation is running parallel to the Obama administration’s internal review of the CIA detention and interrogation program and will call upon many of the same people and documents vetted by the White House.

Panetta has also created an internal review group to respond to congressional and White House questions on the detention and interrogation program, and on extraordinary renditions, the secret transfers of terror detainees outside of the criminal justice system.

Earlier this month Panetta assured CIA employees that neither inquiry would result in prosecution for CIA officers who carried out the interrogation program on the assurances from the Justice Department that it was legal.

In one of his first acts in office President Barack Obama ordered the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, the closure of CIA secret prisons overseas, and the end to the CIA’s separate interrogation program while its methods and their effectiveness are reviewed.

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