CIA Lawyer Nominee Avoids Details

No bombshells were dropped as the nominee to become the Central Intelligence Agency’s top lawyer appeared before a Senate committee yesterday.

John Rizzo has been nominated to be the agency’s general counsel after serving in an acting capacity for much of the last six years. Speculation abounded that his nomination hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee would draw tough questions about prisoner interrogations.

But there were no fireworks during the open portion of the two-hour hearing, the New York Times reports. “Few inquisitors asked barbed questions, and the man being questioned delivered answers noteworthy for their lack of detail,” the newspaper says.

In one exchange, Rizzo said he did not object to a Justice Department opinion that said tough interrogation methods amounted to torture only if they caused organ failure, impairment of bodily function or death. But the language was “overbroad for the issue that it was intended to cover,” he said.

Rizzo appeared affable and calm, delivering answers that were short and polite, the Washington Post reports. His longest response was six sentences long.

“Dapper, white-haired and bearded, he resembled a slimmed-down Santa Claus in civilian dress more than Hollywood’s version of a CIA consigliere,” the Post writes.

Often Rizzo said he would like to delay giving answers until a classified, closed session that followed the open hearing.

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