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Obama's designated intelligence head supports closure of Guantanamo, torture ban
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08:21, January 23, 2009

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U.S. President Barack Obama's designated Director of National Intelligence said on Thursday that he supports president's order to close the Guantanamo prison and ban torture interrogation.

Retired Adm. Dennis Blair told a hearing at the Senate Intelligence Committee that he agrees with the president to close the detention center at Guantanamo, which as he said has "become a damaging symbol to the world."

"There must be clear standards for humane treatment that apply to all agencies of U.S. government, including the intelligence community," Blair said.

He made remarks after Obama issued orders earlier on Thursday to ask for the closure of the Guantanamo prison within one year and review of prosecution procedure and all individual cases to decide whether to prosecute terrorist suspects held there or return them to their home countries.

The orders also ban harsh interrogation tactics, which has drawn America criticism by human right activists and other governments.

Blair also told the committee which is processing the confirmation of his nomination that the Army Field Manual that outlines 19 legal interrogation techniques and forbids nine should also govern questioning of Central Intelligence Agency, which during former President George W. Bush's administration was allowed to use harsh interrogation ways different from military.

He suggested that the document should, actually, be renamed "the manual for government interrogations."

However, Blair refused to call waterboarding, one of the harsh interrogation used on terrorist suspects, "torture," and only noted that there would be no waterboarding or torture "on my watch."

During the hearing, he also told senators that U.S. intelligence agencies should find out how to work with Iran on issues of mutual interest.

"While policymakers need to understand anti-American leaders, policies and actions in Iran, the intelligence community can also help policymakers identify and understand other leaders and political forces, so that it is possible to work toward a future in both our interests," he said.

Source: Xinhua

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