"At this time, there are no 'techniques,' if I could say, that are being employed that are in any way against the law or would meet - would be considered torture or anything like that," Mr. Goss said in response to one question.
When he was asked several minutes later whether he could say the same about techniques employed by the agency since the campaign against Al Qaeda expanded in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks in the United States, he said, "I am not able to tell you that."
And then there was this word game that Goss played with John McCain, a man who knows a thing or two about the line between interrogation and torture:
In the session, Mr. Goss was challenged by Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican who spent years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. When Mr. McCain asked Mr. Goss about the C.I.A.'s previously reported use of a technique known
as waterboarding, in which a prisoner is made to believe that he will drown, Mr. Goss replied only that the approach fell into "an area of what I will call professional interrogation techniques."
He vigorously defended "professional interrogation" as an important tool in efforts against terrorism, saying that it had resulted in "documented successes" in averting attacks and capturing important suspects. Mr. Goss said that Congress had been kept fully informed of the techniques used by the C.I.A., and that those currently being used did not constitute torture, which is prohibited by law.
"As I said publicly before, and I know for a fact, that torture is not - it's not productive," Mr. Goss said. "That's not professional interrogation. We don't do torture."