A US Senate committee will vote next week on whether to declassify its report on a CIA interrogation program, potentially shedding light on some of the most objectionable tactics of America’s war on terror.
Disputes over the 6,300-page review and the years-long research conducted by Intelligence Committee staff have led to a rift between the Central Intelligence Agency and the panel, which is headed by Senator Dianne Feinstein.
She said Wednesday that a vote is expected April 3, after one this week was postponed to give lawmakers more time to review the parts of the document that could be released to the public.
Feinstein wants to declassify the report’s 400-page summary, as well as its key findings and conclusions.
“I think it’s very important that it be made public” so that the brutal interrogation techniques used in the program “will never happen again,” she told AFP.
When the report, one of the most exhaustive acts of oversight by Congress, was approved by the committee back in 2012, Feinstein described the program’s so-called black sites and use of enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, as “terrible mistakes.”
She has questioned whether the program yielded useful intelligence that could have thwarted future terrorist attacks. Lawmakers including Republican Senator John McCain equated the interrogation techniques with torture.
Senate Democrat John Rockefeller, who avidly supports releasing the entire report with minimal redactions, said there was sufficient support among panel members for declassification.
The move, which would require final steps by the intelligence community, is likely to revive debate over the highly controversial interrogation techniques that framed the program launched during president George W. Bush’s administration at the height of the post-9/11 war on terror.
The behind-the-scenes spat between the CIA and the Senate committee spilled into the open in recent weeks, with Feinstein accusing the agency of spying on its congressional overseers, including tapping into computers used by Senate researchers.
The CIA countered that the Senate staff improperly accessed classified agency documents.
President Barack Obama has said he would like to see the report made public, as has the program’s chief legal architect John Rizzo.
The former CIA lawyer wrote an op-ed in Wednesday’s USA Today saying he understood the report offers “scathing” criticism of the interrogation program and those at the CIA, including himself, who conceived and implemented it.
“So be it. Let it out, along with the CIA’s 122-page rebuttal,” he added. “Americans deserve to see all of it and make their own judgments.”
Copyright (2014) AFP. All rights reserved.
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