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Former President George H.W. Bush, a onetime director of the CIA, said Thursday he "felt compelled to reiterate my confidence" in the agency in the wake of a Senate report outlining the use of harsh interrogation tactics after the September 11 attacks.

"Nearly four decades ago, it was my privilege to go to Langley to lead the men and women of the CIA at a contentious time," he said in a statement. "During my short time there, I learned firsthand that they are among the very finest people serving in the United States government -- whose selfless and often dangerous work, always behind the scenes, went unheralded. I felt compelled to reiterate my confidence in the Agency today, and to thank those throughout its ranks for their ongoing and vitally important work to keep America safe and secure."

Bush served as the CIA's head from January 1976 to January 1977.

Earlier Thursday, current CIA Director John Brennan said that the agency used interrogation tactics that were "abhorrent" but that it also "did a lot of things right" to keep America safe from the threat of terrorism.

- Carrie Dann