Washington, Apr 10 (ANI): The Central Intelligence Agency has said that it would decommission the secret overseas prisons where it subjected al Qaeda prisoners to brutal interrogation methods, bringing to a symbolic close the most controversial counter-terrorism program of the Bush Administration.
CIA Director Leon E. Panetta however said agency officers who worked in the program "should not be investigated, let alone punished" because the Justice Department under then President George W. Bush had declared their actions legal.
Panetta and other top Obama Administration officials have said they believe that waterboarding, the near-drowning method used in 2002 and 2003 on three prisoners, is torture, which is illegal under American and international law, The New York Times reported.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which interviewed 14 prisoners, said in a report made public this week that prisoners were also repeatedly slammed into walls, forced to stand for days with their arms handcuffed to the ceiling, confined in small boxes and held in frigid cells.
Panetta said the secret detention facilities were no longer in operation, but he suggested that security and maintenance had been continuing at the sites at the taxpayers' expense since they were emptied under Bush in 2006.
The CIA has never revealed the location of its so-called black sites overseas, but intelligence officials, aviation records and news reports have placed them in Afghanistan, Thailand, Poland, Romania and Jordan, among other countries.
Agency officials have said that fewer than 100 prisoners have been held since the program was created in 2002, and about 30 were subjected to what the CIA called "enhanced" interrogation techniques. (ANI)