Feinstein: Vote soon on releasing parts of secret CIA detention report

McClatchy Washington BureauDecember 13, 2013 


Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.


— The Senate Intelligence Committee will soon vote on releasing parts of a report that alleges that the CIA misled lawmakers and U.S. officials about the value of the information produced by the agency's post-9/11 secret detention and harsh interrogation program, the panel chairwoman said.

But that doesn't mean the public will get to see the excerpts any time soon.

The 300-page executive summary, findings and conclusions will still have to go through a process to determine which parts can be made public and which will be blacked out. The review - which will involve the White House and CIA - could take weeks or months, said a congressional aide, who requested anonymity.

Still, the committee vote, which is expected sometime next month, will represent a key step towards publication of the main findings of report, whose conclusions have been the subject of months of contentious discussions between the panel's staff and the CIA.

 "I am pleased that the CIA and Obama administration have agreed that a portion of the report should be made public," the committee chairwoman, Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement marking the 1st anniversary Friday of her panel's vote to adopt the highly classified document. "The committee will vote shortly to adopt and release the executive summary, findings and conclusions which will reflect the CIA's comments as appropriate."

Feinstein's reference to the CIA's comments indicated that the report will not incorporate the portions of a lengthy CIA response - submitted this summer, months after a Feb. 15 deadline - with which the committee staff disagreed.

CIA spokesman Dean Boyd confirmed that there were sections to which the agency objected.

"Our response agreed with a number of the study's findings, but also detailed significant errors," he said in a statement.

Boyd noted that CIA Director John Brennan has publicly said that what were officially known as "enhanced interrogation techniques" are "not an appropriate method to gain intelligence and that their use impairs our ability to play a leadership role in the world."

The report, which comprises more than 6,000 pages and 30,000 footnotes, cost more than $40 million and took some three years to complete, examined the agency's detention of suspected al Qaida terrorists in secret "black site" prisons under the former Bush administration's war on terror.

The committee also looked at the CIA's use of harsh interrogation techniques that many experts decry as torture that violated U.S. and international laws. The techniques included water-boarding, which simulates drowning, wall-slamming and sleep deprivation.

"We are in the very final stages of incorporating some of the CIA's response into the report, though the key findings and conclusions remain highly critical of the CIA's past detention and interrogation activities," Feinstein said.

The CIA and many former Bush administration officials contend that the program was legal, and insist that the interrogation techniques produced intelligence on al Qaida that allowed the United States to prevent terrorist attacks.

Feinstein and some other lawmakers who've read the report, however, have characterized the findings far differently.

"Clandestine 'black sites' and coercive interrogation techniques were terrible mistakes that damaged our reputation, angered our allies and did not produce actionable intelligence that was not achievable through non-coercive tactics," said Feinstein.

Speaking at the panel's Feb. 11 confirmation hearing of CIA Director John Brennan, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-WV, said that report showed that those who ran the program were "ignorant of the topic."

The program was "managed incompetently by senior officials who did not pay attention to crucial details, and corrupted by personnel with pecuniary conflicts of interest," he said. "It was sold to the policymakers - the White House, the Department of Justice and Congress - with grossly inflated claims of professionals who have effected this so-called 'lives saved.' It was a low point in our history."

The committee is split over the report. Only one Republican member joined the Democrats and an independent in voting 9-6 to adopt it. The senior Republican, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, contended that the report contained historical errors and he opposed declassifying any portion of it.

President Barack is under pressure to release the findings from current and former lawmakers and military officers and human rights, religious and civil rights groups. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing in federal court to compel the administration to make the report public.





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