Langley (Virginia, US), Feb.20 (ANI): Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Thursday that the Bush administration's detention and interrogation policies "gave Al Qaeda a powerful recruiting tool."
Visiting the Central Intelligence Agency to swear in Leon E. Panetta as the agency's 19th director, Biden said President Obama's actions in the last month "reverse the policies that in my view and the view of many in this agency caused America to fall short of its founding principles and which gave Al Qaeda a powerful recruiting tool."
Biden spoke of executive orders that President Obama issued to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, require the C.I.A. to use the same non-coercive interrogation methods as the military and report all detainees to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Obama, he said, had also ordered the closing of the secret overseas detention program for Al Qaeda that the C.I.A. created after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The New York Times quoted Biden as saying that he was proud to be one of the C.I.A.'s "leading customers" and added that while there were 16 American intelligence agencies, "this agency remains America's premier national security agency, and we deeply appreciate the risks and the sacrifices that so many in the past and in the present continue to take for this country."
Panetta, 70, a former California congressman and White House chief of staff who has never before worked for an intelligence agency, also made glancing references to the recent history of the C.I.A., which was blamed for mistaken assessments of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs in the months before the Iraq war.
Panetta said the agency under his leadership would seek to "provide the very best intelligence, independent judgments, not influenced by the politics of the situation but truly real, objective information that can be presented to the president and the policy makers of this country."
He also said he wanted to "re-establish a relationship" with Congress, whose members often complained in the Bush years about not being adequately consulted or informed about intelligence matters.
The new C.I.A. director promised to work closely with retired admiral and the new director of national intelligence Dennis C. Blair. (ANI)