WASHINGTON – The CIA's interrogation methods are "unique" but don't involve torture, agency chief Porter Goss says, although he won't specify just what techniques are used to extract information from prisoners.
In an interview published Monday in USA Today, Goss reiterated the Bush administration's defense of its interrogation practices in the war against terrorism.
"This agency does not do torture. Torture does not work," Goss said. "We use lawful capabilities to collect vital information and we do it in a variety of unique and innovative ways, all of which are legal and none of which are torture."
The Senate has passed a ban on the torture of suspected terrorists in U.S. custody. The bill would restrict techniques used to interrogate foreign terrorism suspects and would ban "cruel, inhumane or degrading" treatment of anyone in U.S. custody. The bill was sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., himself a former prisoner of war in Vietnam.
Without elaborating, Goss suggested that some techniques that would be restricted under McCain's bill have yielded valuable intelligence. He said it was important that the United States have flexibility in dealing with terror suspects in other countries.
"An enemy that's working in an amorphous network that doesn't have to worry about a bunch of regulations, chain of command, rule of law or anything else has got a huge advantage over a stultified, slow-moving bureaucratic, by-the-book" organization, Goss argued. "So we have to, within the law and within all the requirements of our professional ethics in this profession, develop agility. And that means putting a lot of judgment in the hands of individuals overseas."
Goss declined to discuss reports that the CIA maintains secret detention centers at military bases in Central European countries.