A highly anticipated Senate Intelligence Committee report expected to condemn the CIA for using torture following the 9/11 terrorist attacks is set to be released Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed.
An executive summary of the classified report is expected to accuse the CIA of lying repeatedly to Congress, the White House and the American people. Parts of the report leaked to the media last April, leading to a full investigation.
Secretary of State John Kerry, cautioning the safety of American personnel abroad following the release, requested a delay, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, remained firm on its imminent release. Earnest, during a Monday briefing, said that President Obama believes it’s important for the report to be unveiled, adding that the administration has been planning the release for months and is preparing U.S. embassies for any potential impact.
“We want to be sure we can release report and be transparent,” Earnest said.
The report states that the so-called “enhanced interrogation” program used to get information from terrorism suspects was essentially useless, specifically pointing to waterboarding techniques used on three detainees. CIA defenders have said Congress was routinely briefed on the program, which helped find Osama bin Laden, and ultimately led to the prevention of other attacks.
Approximately 2,000 U.S. Marines have been placed on alert in and around the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean to respond to any potential threat against U.S. embassies and interests following the release in Washington.
Republicans have attempted to stop the release of the report. On Sunday, former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who previously deemed Feinstein too “emotional” over the report’s findings, maintains that the CIA never lied about its interrogation techniques. “To say that we relentlessly, over an expanded period of time, lied to everyone about a program that wasn’t doing any good, that beggars the imagination,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) warned it would lead to “violence and deaths” on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Former President George W. Bush, who in 2010 acknowledged the abusive techniques, saying “I’d do it again to save lives,” defended the CIA Sunday. “These are patriots and whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
And on Monday, two Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sens. Marco Rubio and Jim Risch, issued a scathing statement regarding the report’s impending declassification. “The one-sided report that will be released by Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence cost U.S. tax-payers over $40 million dollars to produce,” the statement begins, “and its authors never interviewed a single CIA official.”
Rubio and Risch call the White House’s support of the report’s release “unconscionable” “reckless” and “irresponsible” because of the threat they say it poses to Americans overseas. They warn that it may also “jeopardize U.S. relations with foreign partners, potentially incite violence, create political problems for our allies, and be used as a recruitment tool for our enemies.”
“We have written to the administration reminding them of these concerns,” the statement says,
President Barack Obama this summer addressed the torture program, saying that “When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line.”
On Friday, in advance of the torture report to be released this week, the Pentagon sent out a warning notice to all combat commands to take “appropriate force protection measures” to protect the safety of all US personnel and installations.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren cautioned that the release of the torture report “potentially could cause unrest” in some “areas of responsibility” for the U.S. military outside the country. Col. Warren would not provide details as to the specific types of additional security measures US military commanders could take.
Separately, U.S. officials report there has been no specific threat to any American military installations in advance of the release of the report and the Pentagon advisory was issued as a prudent precaution.
On the report’s impending release, Oregon’s Democratic Senator Ron Wyden said, “I believe what the American people want is accountability. That’s why its important to put the facts in front of them. This report has been meticulously documented. It has, the full report, has 38,000 footnotes.”
But, Wyden cautioned, it may ruffle some feathers. “I believe many Americans will be angry at the findings of this report,” he said, “how the American people were mislead about misdeeds, about what are out-and-out falsehoods. Also [CIA Director] Mr. Brennan’s relationship with the Congress is still very much an issue.”
Still, despite any anticipated backlash, Wyden said he thinks its release is overdue. “I’m glad this is coming out. This should have come out a long time ago.”