CIA chief sacked for opposing torture
By Sarah Baxter and Michael Smith
Times" -- -- Washington -- The CIA’s top
counter-terrorism official was fired last week because he
opposed detaining Al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons abroad,
sending them to other countries for interrogation and using
forms of torture such as “water boarding”, intelligence sources
Robert Grenier, head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, was
relieved of his post after a year in the job. One intelligence
official said he was “not quite as aggressive as he might have
been” in pursuing Al-Qaeda leaders and networks.
Vincent Cannistraro, a former head of counter-terrorism at the
agency, said: “It is not that Grenier wasn’t aggressive enough,
it is that he wasn’t ‘with the programme’. He expressed
misgivings about the secret prisons in Europe and the rendition
Grenier also opposed “excessive” interrogation, such as
strapping suspects to boards and dunking them in water,
according to Cannistraro.
Porter Goss, who was appointed head of the CIA in August 2004
with a mission to “clean house”, has been angered by a series of
leaks from CIA insiders, including revelations about “black
sites” in Europe where top Al-Qaeda detainees were said to have
In last Friday’s New York Times, Goss wrote that leakers within
the CIA were damaging the agency’s ability to fight terrorism
and causing foreign intelligence organisations to lose
confidence. “Too many of my counterparts from other countries
have told me, ‘You Americans can’t keep a secret’.”
Goss is believed to have blamed Grenier for allowing leaks to
occur on his watch.
Since the appointment of Goss, the CIA has lost almost all its
high-level directors amid considerable turmoil.
AB “Buzzy” Krongard, a former executive director of the CIA who
resigned shortly after Goss’s arrival, said the leaks were
unlikely to stop soon, despite proposals to subject officers to
more lie detector tests.
Krongard said it was up to President George Bush to stop the
rot. “The agency has only one client: the president of the
United States,” he said. “The reorganisation is the way this
president wanted it. If he is unwilling to reform it, the agency
will go on as it is.”
“History will judge how good an idea it was to destroy the teams
and the programmes that were in place.”
Copyright 2006 Times Newspapers Ltd.
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