Outgoing CIA chief Michael Hayden says new rules on the detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists issued by President Obama will be followed "without exception, carve-out, or loophole."
"Our agency has many counterterror tools in its arsenal," Hayden wrote in a memo to agency employees.
One of the first executive orders issued by the new president fulfilled a campaign pledge to reform the way that suspected terrorists are handled by the country's intelligence community. The order restricts the CIA to guidelines in the U.S. Army Field Manual, which includes 19 techniques for interrogations.
Incoming Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, who appeared before a confirmation hearing this week, said that changes to interrogation and detention policies were needed. "Any program of detention and interrogation must comply with the Geneva Conventions, the Conventions on Torture, and the Constitution," he said in testimony. "There must be clear standards for humane treatment that apply to all agencies of U.S. government, including the intelligence community."
The CIA has long resisted being limited to the Army manual, insisting that other techniques are legal and effective. "No one claims the Army Field Manual exhausts the universe of lawful techniques," Hayden recently told reporters. "That manual is a product of the time in which it was written. And the circumstances of that time were very, really quite stark in terms of what it was the Army was trying to achieve. And so I just say, honest men can differ about techniques."
Outgoing DNI Mike McConnell also advocated keeping options open to intelligence interrogators. "As long as it is determined to be legal by appropriate legal authority to make that judgment, my recommendation to the administration would be preserve the ability to use lawfully approved techniques if you're in a situation where you need to use those techniques," he said recently.
Hayden in his note to the CIA employees said that the program had been important. "The rendition, detention, and interrogation program has been an important one," he wrote. "As intelligence professionals, you, the men and women of CIA, will make the best possible use of the space the Republic has given us to act boldly and bravely in its defense."