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WASHINGTON (AFP) – The CIA is "no longer" operating secret prisons used by the intelligence agency to interrogate terror suspects, and plans to shut all remaining "black sites," the spy agency's director said Thursday.
The statement by the Central Intelligence Agency chief confirmed the spy service was carrying out an order from President Barack Obama to shut down the secret prisons that have been condemned at home and abroad as a flagrant violation of human rights.
Panetta said the CIA would continue to question suspects as necessary. But he said it would use "a dialog style of questioning that is fully consistent with the interrogation approaches authorized and listed in the Army Field Manual," which bans harsh techniques.
"CIA officers do not tolerate, and will continue to promptly report, any inappropriate behavior or allegations of abuse. That holds true whether a suspect is in the custody of an American partner or a foreign liaison service," he said.
Furthermore, he said, "no CIA contractors will conduct interrogations."
A controversial loophole permitting CIA officers in extraordinary circumstances to recruit American journalists as agents or use news-gathering organizations as cover also allows the agency to waive a similar 19-year-old ban on employing clerics or missionaries for clandestine work overseas, according to intelligence officials.
At least 30 people have been killed and many others injured in a suspected US missile strike on Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
While Washington claims that the strikes have been directed at militants, it has killed scores of civilians in missile attacks, sparking national outrage.
On Saturday, a US drone fired two missiles at a house in Ladha area of South Waziristan, killing more than 32 people.
The Iranian Intelligence Ministry busted a CIA-backed terror group that was planning to bomb scientific, educational, and religious centers, and carry out assassinations, according to a report in the Tehran Times. The arrests come weeks after Ret. Gen. Thomas McInerney urged the U.S. to carry out terror bombings in Iran.