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CIA Director Says No More Waterboarding


CIA Director John Brennan appears at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.

CIA Director John Brennan appears at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.


The CIA will not use waterboarding to get information from a detainee anymore.

Waterboarding is a method that has been described as torture. It is used to force prisoners to give information.

Usually, the detainee is held down on a board, and water is poured on a cloth covering his face. It makes a person feel like they are drowning.

John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, says the CIA would not use waterboarding even if a future president ordered the method to be used.

“Absolutely, I would not agree to having any CIA officer carrying out waterboarding again," he said in an interview with NBC News. Part of the interviewed aired Sunday.

Brennan said he would not use the tactics “because this institution (the CIA) needs to endure,” or last.

It was part of a program the CIA used after the 2001 terror attacks.

Waterboarding was done by CIA employees to get information from terror suspects. They hoped to force suspects to reveal information about possible future attacks against the U.S.

President Barack Obama banned the techniques in 2009, calling them torture.

The U.S. Senate released a report in December 2014 criticizing the CIA’s use of the harsh techniques. They include waterboarding; mock, or fake, executions; ice baths; sexual threats; and other methods used against captured al-Qaida members and other militants.

The Senate report said the interrogations using these methods did not produce any intelligence that saved lives.

But after the report’s release, Brennan said that the interrogations had produced intelligence that helped stop attack plans and capture terrorists.

There has been much criticism of waterboarding in the U.S. Critics say the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” are torture.

Others defend the program, saying it was necessary for national security. Former Vice President Dick Cheney served under former President George W. Bush. Cheney said they kept the country safe from more attacks.

Jose Rodriguez ran the interrogation program for the CIA. He said information obtained through the interrogations helped capture Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Mohammed calls himself the architect of the September 11 attacks — the person who planned the attacks. He remains a detainee at the U.S. military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. President Obama had said he would close the prison during his presidency.

The U.S. government has tried to bring some detainees to trial. But legal analysts say that is made more difficult because some of the prisoners had been subjected to enhanced interrogations, including waterboarding.

Two U.S Air Force psychologists designed the CIA’s program. Now they are facing a lawsuit filed for three suspected terrorists who were detained, but never charged with crimes.

The ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union, brought the suit last October, saying the psychologists took part in torture sessions that were “unlawful and its methods barbaric.” The case is moving through the courts.

The use of waterboarding is also talked about in the current presidential race.

Last month, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would "use every legal power" to stop terrorists, but would not order the military or others to violate the law. Earlier, he supported going "tougher than waterboarding."

His closest challenger in the Republican race is Senator Ted Cruz. He said in February he would bring back "whatever enhanced interrogation methods" are necessary to keep the country safe.”

I’m Anne Ball.

This story first appeared on VOANews.com. Anne Ball adapted the story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

What's your opinion on waterboarding and interrogation? Write to us in the Comments section and on our Facebook page. ________________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

interrogation - v. to question someone to get information

reveal - v. to make something known

harsh - adj. tough or severe

technique -n. the way of doing something using special knowledge

tactic - n. a carefully planned action or policy

barbaric - adj. very cruel

interview - n. a meeting at which an individual provides information

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