CIA Will Assume Security Positions at Overseas Prisons

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Washington—The CIA will no longer employ private contractors to fill security jobs at secret overseas prisons, say agency insiders.

Leon Panetta, Director of the CIA, has made the decision to end the agency’s use of contractors at the prisons, which are currently empty. No new prisoners have been taken at the facilities since Panetta took office in February, and the CIA is making preparations to permanently close the prisons.

Nevertheless, the memo states, the CIA maintains the prisons so that it may, if necessary, detain and interrogate international prisoners. Should this occur, the interrogators will no longer be private contractors, but will instead be government employees. After interrogation, any prisoners will either be returned to their home countries or any countries which may have legal claims against them, or taken under the jurisdiction of the U.S. military for further judicial action.

This move is a cost-cutting one, expected to save up to $4 million. The CIA did not comment on which contracting company or companies had previously been employed to provide security at the prisons.

Between the years of 2002 and 2006, the Central Intelligence Agency had held and interrogated fewer than 100 prisoners, according to former Director of the CIA, Michael Hayden, in a statement before Congress last year. It utilized harsh methods of interrogation against approximately one-third of those prisoners. The now-notorious waterboarding—which is form of interrogation meant to simulate drowning—was used in the cases of three prisoners.

The White House, as well as Congress, have begun reviewing the Bush administration’s sanctions of CIA detention and interrogation practices, which came under widespread criticism by pundits and citizens alike during the final days of the Bush White House. At issue is the legality of waterboarding, as well as other forms of interrogation, which critics say amounted to torture.

Upon taking office in January 2009, President Barack Obama made the closure of several secret overseas prisons under the CIA’s jurisdiction, as well as the closure of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, one of his first executive acts. He also decreed an end to any interrogation practices by the CIA which employed methods harsher than those used by the U.S. military.

Central Intelligence Agency employees were informed of the change in security personnel policy in a memo sent out last week by director Leon Panetta.

 

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