The White House says it’s warned U.S. installations around the world to brace for potential violent reaction to a report on enhanced interrogation techniques to be released tomorrow by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The chairwoman of the committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), has planned to release the panel report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program for some time, complaining in August that the CIA had made too many redactions in the declassified copy.
“Until these redactions are addressed to the committee’s satisfaction, the report will not be made public,” she said Aug. 5.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today that they, too, have been preparing for the report, while stressing the timing of the release has always been up to the Intel committee.
Feinstein hands over the gavel of the committee when the lawmakers leave for the holiday recess as Republicans take over chairmanships in the 114th Congress.
“There are some indications that this — that the release of the report could lead to a greater risk that is posed to U.S. facilities and individuals all around the world,” Earnest said. “So, the administration has taken the prudent steps to ensure that the proper security precautions are in place at U.S. facilities around the globe.”
Still, Earnest said President Obama “strongly supports” the release of the report.
“The president, on his first or second day in office, issued — took the steps using executive action to put an end to the tactics that are described in the report,” he said. “And the president believes that, on principle, it’s important to release that report, so that people around the world and people here at home understand exactly what transpired.”
“There are obviously gonna be some limits about what can be said, given the classified nature of the program. But because of the scrupulous work of the committee and the administration and the intelligence community in particular, we’ve declassified as much of that report as we can. And we want to be sure that we can release that report, be transparent about it, and be clear about what American values are and be clear about the fact that the administration believes, and that in a way that’s consistent with American values, that something like this should never happen again.”
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the committee who’s been pushing for the release of the report, said the contents won’t change the hatred of those around the world “already angry at the United States because torture was used in the past.”
“The report compares very carefully what the CIA told the Congress and the American people about interrogation. And the report compares that to these internal memoranda that came from CIA officials. And the fact is, there’s a big gap between the two,” Wyden told MSNBC.
The senator stressed that the report is “meticulous,” with 38,000 footnotes.
Wyden noted how CIA Director John Brennan has said he had no interest in revisiting the matter while he was “very interested in secretly examining Senate files.”
“So again and again, the American people have not gotten the straight story. Now with a meticulously documented report, they’re going to make up their own mind,” he added.
State Department press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed today that Secretary of State John Kerry called Feinstein to discuss “the implications of the timing” of the release.
“He’s the secretary of State, and oftentimes, he makes proposals, and certainly he worked with Dianne – Senator Feinstein for decades,” Psaki said. “I’m not going to get into more specifics other than to convey that it was known he was going to make the call; it was a call to discuss, as I described, implications as the Secretary of State on our foreign policy priorities.”
Yet she veered back to the administration line, stressing Kerry
supports the release” and “believes it’s up to Senator Feinstein to determine the timing.”
“But certainly, one of the benefits of having been in the Senate for 29 years is the ability to call a former colleague and convey, ‘Look, this is what I’m seeing and hearing around the world,’ and that’s exactly what he did.”
Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) issued a joint statement slamming the “one-sided report” that cost more than $40 million yet didn’t interview one CIA official.
“It is unconscionable that the Committee and the White House would support releasing this report despite warnings from our allies, the U.S. State Department, and a new coordinated Intelligence Community document assessing the increased risk to the United States the release of this report poses. We are concerned that this release could endanger the lives of Americans overseas, 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,” the senators said.
“Simply put, this release is reckless and irresponsible. We have written to the administration reminding them of these concerns.”
Both the House and Senate intelligence panels have usually enjoyed a good deal of bipartisanship, but Risch and Rubio called the report “a partisan effort that divided members of the committee, and the committee against the people of the CIA.”
“We voted against this report because it is flawed, and voted against declassifying this report because we believed that its release could put American lives at risk, be used to contribute to propaganda against the United States by our enemies, and damage U.S. foreign policy and counterterrorism efforts.”