Panel set to release CIA report

Senate probe offers look at agency’s detention program

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WASHINGTON -- Two Senate Intelligence Committee members on Wednesday announced their support for declassifying parts of a long-delayed report on the CIA's defunct detention and interrogation program, all but assuring that the committee will approve the report and send it to President Barack Obama for eventual release.

The announcement by Maine's two senators -- Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent -- effectively ended any suspense about whether the committee's chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., will have enough votes to declassify the voluminous report's conclusions and executive summary, which are said to comprise about 400 pages of the 6,300-page report. The committee's other Republicans oppose the report's conclusions, but support from Ms. Collins and Mr. King for releasing the report will give a veneer of bipartisanship to the panel's vote.

The vote to declassify the summary, scheduled for this afternoon, will bring at least partial closure to the years of committee partisan jousting about the report, which sets out to tell the history of what is perhaps the most controversial Bush administration response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

People who have read the report say it is unsparing in its criticism of the CIA's brutal interrogation methods, and makes the case that the spy agency repeatedly misled Congress, the White House and the public about the value of the program.

Ms. Feinstein has said that when the committee approves the report, she will send it directly to the White House for declassification. Mr. Obama has said he supports the report's public release, but it is uncertain how long the declassification process could take.

Today's vote will come amid a public dispute between the CIA and the Intelligence Committee over whether the agency conducted an unlawful search of computers used by committee staff members who were examining documents for the report at a CIA facility in Northern Virginia. For their part, CIA officials believe that the committee gained unauthorized access to restricted parts of the agency's computer network. The Justice Department is reviewing the charges made by both sides in the dispute.

In their announcement, the two senators said the report's findings "lead us to conclude that some detainees were subjected to techniques that constituted torture" and raise "serious concerns about the CIA's management" of the detention program, which Mr. Obama ended in 2009. "Torture is wrong, and we must make sure that the misconduct and the grave errors made in the CIA's detention and interrogation program never happen again," the statement said.

But the two senators also challenged the way the report was compiled, criticizing it for relying solely on documents and for not also incorporating views of either CIA or other executive branch officials. It is partly for this reason that Republican panel members stopped participating in the detention investigation and have criticized the report as a one-sided attempt to smear the CIA and the Bush administration.

The committee is also expected today to vote to declassify both the Republican dissent from the report's conclusions as well as the CIA's response to the detention investigation, which CIA director John Brennan personally delivered to the Intelligence Committee last June.

In its investigation, the committee scrutinized a number of case studies to test claims made by Bush administration officials that the CIA interrogation methods yielded valuable information that disrupted terrorist plots and led U.S. spies to other al-Qaida operatives.

President George W. Bush himself made one of the most detailed public cases about the value of the CIA program during a speech in September 2006, when he announced that the CIA's prisoners had been transferred to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. During the speech, Mr. Bush said it was only by using the brutal interrogation methods that the CIA was ultimately able to track down al-Qaida militants such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh.

The Intelligence Committee report is said to directly challenge these claims, as well as provide new details about the questioning of prisoners in a number of CIA prisons in Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Human rights advocates have pledged to exert pressure on Mr. Obama to ensure that the report is swiftly made public. "I place responsibility in the hands of the president," said Andrea Prasow, senior national security counsel for Human Rights Watch. "If the president wants it to happen, he could make it happen."


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