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CIA Replacing Private Guards At Secret Prisons Print
by The Associated Press

NPR.org, April 10, 2009 · The CIA has stopped using contractors to interrogate prisoners and has fired private security guards at the CIA's secret overseas prisons, which are in the process of being shut down, agency Director Leon Panetta says.

Panetta told agency employees in an e-mail message Thursday that the guards will be replaced with CIA officers at the sites, which President Obama ordered closed on his second day in office.

Terminating the private security guards who watched over the secret sites would save the agency $4 million, Panetta said. The CIA refused to provide details about the contract, including its total value and the company or companies that were fired.

The secret prisons are now empty, Panetta said, and the agency has not taken any new prisoners since he became director in February.

The CIA is now preparing plans for the prisons to be permanently shut down. An intelligence official said the facilities have to be cleaned of any potentially sensitive materials before they can be closed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the process of shutting down the secret sites.

The CIA, however, still has the authority to hold and interrogate prisoners for short periods. Panetta said they will be interrogated by agency employees, not private contractors, and then quickly handed over to the U.S. military, or to their home countries or countries that have legal claims on them.

Between 2002 and '06, the CIA held and interrogated fewer than 100 prisoners, former CIA Director Michael Hayden told Congress last year. It used harsh interrogation methods on about one-third of them. Three prisoners were subjected to waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning.

Hayden also confirmed to Congress that private contractors had been used to conduct interrogations, especially in the months immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the CIA did not have interrogators of its own.
 
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