Senate Democrats poised to declassify interrogations report

Maine Sens. Susan Collins (R) and Angus King (I) announced Wednesday that they support declassifying the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on Bush-era interrogation techniques, all but ensuring that Democrats will have the votes they need to release it.

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Collins and King said in a joint statement that they support declassifying the executive summary and findings and conclusions from the 6,300-page report on waterboarding and other interrogation tactics used on terror detainees after 9/11.

While they said their vote “does not signal our full endorsement of all of its conclusions or its methodology,” they said the report’s findings show that the interrogation techniques constituted "torture."

“While we have some concerns about the process for developing the report, its findings lead us to conclude that some detainees were subjected to techniques that constituted torture,” the senators said. “This inhumane and brutal treatment never should have occurred. Further, the report raises serious concerns about the CIA's management of this program.”

The Senate Intelligence panel is set to vote on declassifying the report on Thursday.

With the backing of Collins and King, the vote is all but assured of passage. No Democrats have indicated they are opposed to declassification, and the committee has eight members who caucus with Democrats and seven Republicans.

Most Republicans, who did not participate in the committee’s investigation of the CIA’s interrogation programs during the George W. Bush administration, are expected to vote against declassification.

Neither Collins nor King was on the Intelligence Committee when the first draft of the report was completed in December 2012.

At the time, then-Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) was the lone Republican on the panel to vote to approve the report.

If the panel votes to make the report’s executive summary and findings and conclusions public, that would start a process between the committee and the CIA to redact portions of the report that could take months.

The report has sparked a major dispute between the CIA and the committee, including the recent dueling accusations where committee accused the CIA of spying on the panel’s computers and the CIA accused committee staffers of illicitly taking classified documents.

Democrats on the committee have said that their report concludes that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques did not provide intelligence that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, contrary to the CIA’s contentions.

The report also found that the CIA misled the government about the severity of its methods used, including one similar to waterboarding that was not on a Justice Department list of approved techniques, according to the Washington Post.