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Senate Panel Orders Release of CIA Torture Report

Senate Panel Orders Release of CIA Torture Reporti
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Kent Klein
April 04, 2014 4:49 PM
Parts of a secret report alleging that the CIA tortured terror suspects may become public within the next month. As VOA's Kent Klein reports, the Senate Intelligence Committee vote to declassify the information is part of the panel's ongoing feud with the spy agency.
Kent Klein
— The Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to release parts of a secret report criticizing the CIA's methods of interrogating terror suspects after the 2001 al-Qaida attacks on New York and Washington.

The committee's 6,200-page report says waterboarding and other interrogation techniques used during the presidency of Republican George W. Bush were unnecessarily cruel and yielded little valuable intelligence.

Committee chair Dianne Feinstein says she hopes a 480-page summary of the report should be declassified within 30 days.

"And the results, I think, were shocking.  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 be allowed to happen again.  This is not what Americans do," said Feinstein.

The committee's vote was 11-to-3, with some minority Republicans voting with Democrats in favor of releasing the summary.

The panel's top Republican, Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, said it's time for the country to move on.

"I was never in favor of this report being done.  I think it was a waste of time.  We had already had a report done by the Armed Services Committee on this issue, and this is a chapter in our past that should have already been closed," said Chambliss.

Feinstein says the report also points to major problems with the CIA's management of its interrogation program and its interaction with the White House and Congress.

"This is also deeply troubling, and shows why oversight of intelligence agencies in a democratic nation is so important," she said.

The Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA have been locked in a war of words about the report.  Senators say the agency spied on their investigators and withheld files.

The CIA says Senate staffers had illegal access to files, and that the report lacks interviews from top agency officials.

The release of the summary could lead to less transparency in the U.S. intelligence community, not more, according to human rights professor Jeffrey Bachman at Washington's American University.  He says officials will seek to avoid embarrassment.

"I think it will raise questions of clear violations of the international human rights law, and potentially the laws of war, and so I think this will actually cause greater restraint and constraint, not with, necessarily, practices, but with information in the future," said Bachman.

President Obama has said he supports declassifying the summary.  Officials say he will instruct the intelligence community to cooperate fully.

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to make public key parts of a long-awaited report highly critical of the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation techniques during the war on terror.

Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, speaking Thursday, said the report "exposes the brutality" of interrogation practices first brought to public light during the presidency of George W. Bush.

The newly-declassified 480-page executive summary also concludes the CIA repeatedly misled officials about the severity of the "enhanced" interrogation techniques, including waterboarding and sleep deprivation.

Additionally, the report -- assembled entirely by Democrats -- concludes that those practices did little to produce valuable intelligence from terrorism suspects in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Thursday's 11-3 committee vote -- opposed by three Republicans on the panel -- comes as the Senate committee and the CIA remain locked in a bitter feud related to the report.

Senators have accused the CIA of spying on their inquiry and deleting key files, while the CIA says Senate staffers illegally accessed classified information that could jeopardize the safety of its operatives.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, speaking Thursday, repeated President Obama's support for releasing the summary. He told reporters the CIA will be instructed to complete the declassification quickly.

Georgia Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss said he voted for the release of the summary "to get it behind us," while calling the Senate probe a "waste of time."

He also challenged findings saying the program failed to help track down Osama bin Laden and other terror suspects. He said information extracted from the interrogations led to the uncovering of other terror plots, as well as to bin Laden's demise.

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