The US will no longer use extraordinary renditions, a controversial tool employed by the Bush administration, in the war on terrorism, President Barack Obama's nominee to head the CIA said on Thursday.
Leon Panetta said the Obama administration has banned the practice of secretly sending a captured suspect to a third country for interrogations that could involve torture.
"Extraordinary renditions were, I think, the situation where we took a prisoner and sent him to another country for questioning," Panetta said Thursday during his Senate confirmation hearing. "And often times, that questioning took place under circumstances that did not meet our test for human values."
Panetta also said that no prisoners will be held at so-called "black sites", where the CIA under former president George W Bush covertly held detainees for interrogations without providing access to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Panetta, however, said the US government will continue to use the long-established practice of taking prisoners to the US or sending them to another country for possible prosecution, but not under circumstances where they can be abused. That method is known simply as renditions.
"In the renditions, where we return an individual to the jurisdiction of another country and then they exercise, you know, their right to try that individual and to prosecute him under their laws, I think that is an appropriate use of rendition," Panetta said.
Panetta, 70, was an unusual choice to head the CIA because he previously lacked direct experience in the intelligence community, but his nomination was expected to glide through the Senate.
Panetta served as former president Bill Clinton's chief of staff and was also a congressman from California. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a closed-door, classified hearing with Panetta on Friday.