CIA Director John Brennan pauses during a news conference at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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CIA Director John Brennan is acknowledging that agency officers did "abhorrent" things to captive terror suspects, and he says he can't prove the harsh treatment made the prisoners cooperate.That is the carefully balanced case that Brennan attempted to make Thursday during an unprecedented televised news conference at CIA headquarters, something no one on the CIA public affairs staff could remember ever happening at the secretive agency's Virginia campus. Brennan defended the overall detention of 119 suspects as having produced valuable intelligence that, among other things, helped the CIA find and kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.The report argues that torture failed to produce intelligence that the CIA couldn't have obtained, or didn't already have, elsewhere.Brennan's more nuanced position puts him in harmony with an anti-torture White House while attempting to mollify the many CIA officers involved in the program who still work for him.In starker terms than CIA officials have used previously, Brennan, a career CIA analyst, acknowledged mistakes when the agency took captured Al-Qaeda operatives to secret prisons and began using brutal methods in an effort to break them.
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