National Security

Feinstein: Pompeo ‘absolutely wrong’ about her report on CIA interrogation program

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California. TNS

Rep. Mike Pompeo, the nominee to be the next U.S. spy chief, was “absolutely wrong” when he said CIA interrogation techniques were within the law, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said on Friday.

The California Democrat, as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, authored a 2014 report that concluded the practices, which included waterboarding, were outside constitutional boundaries.

“Congressman Pompeo would know all of this if he were to read the report the committee prepared over several years,” Feinstein said in a blistering statement hours after President-elect Donald Trump announced Pompeo’s appointment.

Feinstein, who remains on the committee, promised to bring up the issue when Pompeo appears before it for his confirmation hearing.

Pompeo, a three-term Kansas Republican, West Point graduate and former Army officer who’s a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has been a staunch critic of the Obama administration’s national security policy.

When Feinstein’s report was released in December 2014, Pompeo said that Feinstein “has put American lives at risk,” and made the nation less secure.

“The programs being used were within the law, within the constitution, and conducted with the full knowledge Senator Feinstein,” Pompeo said then. “If any individual did operate outside of the program’s legal framework, I would expect them to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

“Our friends and allies across the world, who have worked closely with us to crush the Islamic jihad that threatens every Kansan and every American, now know the United States government will not honor its commitments,” he added. “Their willingness to work with us in the future is now greatly diminished.”

On Friday, Feinstein said Pompeo was “wrong on all three counts” when he said the interrogation program was within the law, the Constitution and conducted with public knowledge.

“The torture used during that time was beyond any legal justification, it certainly was not supported by the Constitution and the full Senate Intelligence Committee was only briefed on this program hours before President Bush made it public,” Feinstein said.

“The CIA’s detention and interrogation program was ineffective, it was brutal and it stands in direct violation of American values,” she said. “I’m thankful that Senator (John) McCain and I were able to pass legislation ensure the U.S. government never again uses such revolting interrogation techniques in the future. We can never return to that dark time.”

“I plan to speak with Congressman Pompeo about this issue during his confirmation process,” Feinstein added.

Pompeo’s office declined to comment.

Read McClatchy’s Pulitzer finalist coverage of the Senate CIA interrogation report.

Curtis Tate: 202-383-6018, @tatecurtis