Senate Takes First Step to Declassify Report on CIA Interrogations

The next step: bringing the massive report to the public.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: Committee chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (C), ranking member Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) (R) and Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV) (L) listen during a hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee September 26,2 103 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The hearing was focused on the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Legislation.
National Journal
Elahe Izad
Add to Briefcase
Elahe Izad
April 3, 2014, 11:44 a.m.

In a closed hear­ing Thursday, the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee voted 11-3 to de­clas­si­fy por­tions of a CIA re­port de­tail­ing post-9/11 in­ter­rog­a­tion tac­tics.

The law­makers sent their re­quest to the White House to de­clas­si­fy more than 500 pages of a 6,200-page re­port, in­clud­ing an ex­ec­ut­ive sum­mary, find­ings, and con­clu­sions about an in­ter­rog­a­tion pro­gram in­volving more than 100 de­tain­ees.

“The pur­pose of this re­view was to un­cov­er the facts be­hind this secret pro­gram, and the res­ults were shock­ing,” Chair­wo­man Di­anne Fein­stein said. “The re­port ex­poses bru­tal­ity that stands in stark con­trast to our val­ues as a na­tion. It chron­icles a stain on our his­tory that must nev­er again be al­lowed to hap­pen.”

The Cali­for­nia Demo­crat ad­ded that the re­port also de­tails prob­lems with the CIA’s man­age­ment of the pro­gram, which ran between 2001 and 2009, and its in­ter­ac­tion with the ex­ec­ut­ive branch and Con­gress about it.

Pres­id­ent Obama has said he fa­vors de­clas­si­fic­a­tion, but the CIA is ex­pec­ted to have some in­put in­to how much is re­leased. It’s un­clear how long it’ll take, though, un­til the pub­lic gets to see the re­port. Fein­stein said she hopes it will take as little as 30 days for the White House to re­lease por­tions of it.

The con­tents of the re­port con­clude that the CIA misled the pub­lic on as­pects of its in­ter­rog­a­tion pro­gram in the wake of 9/11, in­clud­ing “en­hanced in­ter­rog­a­tion tech­niques,” The Wash­ing­ton Post re­por­ted earli­er this week.

A num­ber of Re­pub­lic­ans have stated pub­licly that they didn’t sup­port the re­port’s find­ings, and have ex­pressed con­cerns that it was pro­duced by Demo­crat­ic staff and doesn’t in­clude in­ter­views with CIA of­fi­cials. “This re­port is totally biased,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has said.

Non­ethe­less, all but three voted in fa­vor of de­clas­si­fy­ing it.

Rank­ing mem­ber Saxby Cham­b­liss of Geor­gia voted to de­clas­si­fy por­tions of the re­port be­cause “we need to get this be­hind us.”

“This com­mit­tee has got im­port­ant work that needs to be done. I was nev­er in fa­vor of this re­port be­ing done. I think it was a waste of time,” Cham­b­liss said. “We had already had a re­port done by the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee on this is­sue. This is a chapter in our past that should have already been closed. However, the gen­er­al pub­lic has the right to now know what was done and what’s in the re­port.”

Fein­stein would not dis­close how in­di­vidu­al sen­at­ors voted, but con­firmed all three nos were Re­pub­lic­ans. GOP Sen. Richard Burr of North Car­o­lina said in a state­ment that he voted in fa­vor of it “to give the Amer­ic­an people the op­por­tun­ity to make their own judg­ments.” “I am con­fid­ent that they will agree that a 6,300 page [sic] re­port based on a cold doc­u­ment re­view, without a single in­ter­view of In­tel­li­gence Com­munity, Ex­ec­ut­ive Branch, or con­tract per­son­nel in­volved, can­not be an ac­cur­ate rep­res­ent­a­tion of any pro­gram, let alone this one.”

Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Susan Collins of Maine also voted in fa­vor of the de­clas­si­fy­ing the re­port. Aside from her, Burr, and Coburn, the oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans on the com­mit­tee are Sens. Marco Ru­bio, Dan Coats, James Risch.

Some law­makers are already call­ing for the de­clas­si­fic­a­tion of the en­tire 6,200-page re­port, such as New Mex­ico Demo­crat Sen. Mar­tin Hein­rich.

“When people see the con­tent, when it’s de­clas­si­fied, I think people will be shocked at what’s in­side,” Hein­rich said of the ex­ec­ut­ive sum­mary.

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