Former CIA lawyer: Brennan didn't object to torture

At his confirmation hearing, Brennan says he has long condemned waterboarding. An old colleague remembers otherwise

Published February 12, 2013 4:25PM (EST)

During his Senate confirmation hearing to become CIA director, John Brennan insisted that while working in the CIA during the Bush administration, he had complained to colleague's about the agency's enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT's) used against detainees.

“I professed my personal objections to and views to some agency colleagues about certain of those EIT's, such as waterboarding, nudity and others where I professed my personal objections to it," Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee. “But I did not try to stop it because it was something that was being done in a different part of the agency.”

However, according to comments made by a longtime colleague of Brennan's, former CIA lawyer John Rizzo, the counterterror czar's "personal objections" were not known to even those working closely with him at the time. As HuffPo noted Tuesday, during a panel discussion on the film "Zero Dark Thirty" at Cardozo Law School, Rizzo supported the selection of Brennan as CIA director, but challenged his claims of objecting to waterboarding:

The fact of the matter is, he never told -- he never expressed any concerns to me -- and my office was 15 feet away from his. I would have liked to have thought he would have done so, or at least I would have heard about them, because that would have had a great impact on me, because I have great respect for him... I just never heard from him directly or ever heard that he had expressed any concerns to colleagues. I've talked to other agency veterans. Because to tell you the truth, it did mean something to me. It would have been something I would have wanted to know at the time. And I can't find anybody who remembers that.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Cia Eit's John Brennan John Rizzo Senate Intelligence Committee Torture Waterboarding