(AP) Nominated to head the CIA, John Brennan told a protest-disrupted Senate confirmation hearing Thursday the United States employs drone strikes only as a deterrent against imminent terrorist threats, not as punishment for previous attacks.
Nothing could be further from the truth, he said at a session during which he also conceded that after years of intelligence work he is uncertain whether the use of waterboarding in interrogations has yielded valuable information.
He declined several times to say whether waterboarding is torture, but he did say it is something that is reprehensible and should never be done again.
In hours of questioning from the Senate Intelligence Committee, Brennan made repeated general pledges to increase the flow of information to members of the panel, but he was less specific when it came to individual cases. Asked at one point whether he would provide a list of countries where the CIA has used lethal authority, he replied, It would be my intention to do everything possible to comply.
At another point, he said he had no second thoughts about having opposed a planned strike against Osama bin Laden in 1998, a few months before the bombings of two U.S. embassies. The plan was not well-grounded, he said, adding that other intelligence officials also recommended against proceeding. Brennan was at the CIA at the time.