Senate panel to vote to declassify Bush-era CIA interrogation report

 

The Senate Intelligence Committee will vote Thursday to declassify parts of its 6,300-page report on the CIA’s Bush-era interrogation program.

Democratic senators have said the report found that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics did not aid in tracking down Osama bin Laden. The CIA has disputed that conclusion and some of the committee’s other findings.

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The report has sparked a major dispute between the committee and the spy agency, with both sides accusing the other of potentially breaking the law over an internal CIA review of the interrogation program.

Thursday's vote will cover the executive summary, findings and recommendations in the report, but not the full 6,300-page contents. The report was first completed in December 2012. 

The controversial report's executive summary alone is 400 pages, and there are 20 findings from the committee, according to Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). 

Assuming the vote succeeds, the report will then be sent to the Obama administration for redaction.

Feinstein said that she doesn’t know how long the redaction process will take, though she is expecting it would be a couple of months at least.

“There will be some redactions. Hopefully it will be minimal,” Feinstein said Wednesday.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) on Wednesday said they would vote in favor of declassification, ensuring the vote will go forward. Democrats hold an 8-7 edge on the committee.

The investigation was only carried out by Democratic staff members, as Republicans did not participate, and all but one Republican, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), voted against the report in a 9-6 2012 vote.

Collins, who was not on the Intelligence panel in 2012, said she decided to vote for declassifying the report after getting a briefing from the CIA and meeting with the staff authors and the Republican staff.

“The report is not without flaws, particularly in its methodology, but it’s fundamental conclusion about the mistreatment of detainees is accurate,” Collins told The Hill.

In a statement announcing their support for declassification, Collins and King said the report's findings show that the interrogation techniques constituted “torture.”

The White House has said it supports speedy declassification of the Senate’s report, and CIA Director John Brennan has pledged to cooperate with the committee to get it declassified.

“CIA has tried to work as collaboratively as possible with the committee on its report. We will continue to do so, and I have talked extensively to Chairman Feinstein and Vice Chairman [Saxby] Chambliss (R-Ga.) about the report and the way forward,” Brennan said at an event last month.

“But we also owe it to the women and men who faithfully did their duty in executing this program to try to make sure that any historical record of it is a balanced and accurate one,” he said.