Panetta Open to Tougher Methods in Some C.I.A. Interrogation
Leon E. Panetta, the White House pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, left open the possibility that the agency could seek permission to use interrogation methods more aggressive than the limited menu that President Obama authorized under new rules issued last month.
Under insistent questioning from a Senate panel, Mr. Panetta said that in extreme cases, if interrogators were unable to extract critical information from a terrorism suspect, he would seek White House approval for the C.I.A. to use methods that would go beyond those permitted under the new rules.
“If we had a ticking bomb situation, and obviously, whatever was being used I felt was not sufficient, I would not hesitate to go to the president of the United States and request whatever additional authority I would need,” Mr. Panetta said in his nomination hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Mr. Panetta said no agency operatives should be prosecuted for waterboarding — which induces the feeling of drowning — or any other interrogation method that had been authorized by the Justice Department.