Senate Intel chief ‘will not rush’ CIA report

The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee is warning that a controversial report about the CIA’s former interrogation practices won't become public until she is satisfied with the amount of information that is redacted.

Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has sparred with the Obama administration over the extent of redactions to the lengthy executive summary of the 6,000-page report detailing the “enhanced interrogation” techniques used during the Bush administration.

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In a statement on Tuesday, she pledged not to release the so-called "torture report" to the public until “key facts that support the report’s findings and conclusions” are allowed to stay in.

“The bottom line is that the United States must never again make the mistakes documented in this report,” she said. “I believe the best way to accomplish that is to make public our thorough documentary history of the CIA’s program.

“That is why I believe taking our time and getting it right is so important, and I will not rush this process.”

The report, which is expected to detail practices such as waterboarding in harsh terms and conclude that they were ineffective in stopping terrorists, is the product of five years of work for the committee.

The effort has received pushback from officials at the CIA and from Committee Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who is leading the effort to release a minority report contesting the report's conclusions.

Late last week, Feinstein revealed that the Obama administration had redacted about 15 percent of the public version of the report, though the administration has pointed out that much of those changes were in the footnotes.

The edits were necessary to protect “sensitive classified information,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said at the time.

Still, the changes drew significant rebuke from lawmakers.

“While Director Clapper may be technically correct that the document has been 85 percent declassified, it is also true that strategically placed redactions can make a narrative incomprehensible and can certainly make it more difficult to understand the basis for the findings and conclusions reached in the report,” Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), a member of the Intel panel who supported Feinstein's delay, said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The CIA should not face its past with a redaction pen, and the White House must not allow it to do so."

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) piled on, calling the redactions “totally unacceptable” in a statement on Tuesday.

In reviewing the changes proposed by the administration, he said, “I saw multiple instances where CIA proposes to redact information that has already been publicly disclosed” in a 2009 report from his committee.

“The White House needs to take hold of this process and ensure that all information that should be declassified is declassified,” Levin added.

The unclassified summary was originally expected as soon as this week. 

In her statement on Tuesday, Feinstein said that she was sending a letter to President Obama, “laying out a series of changes to the redactions that we believe are necessary prior to public release.”

"The White House and the intelligence community have committed to working through these changes in good faith," she said. "This process will take some time, and the report will not be released until I am satisfied that all redactions are appropriate." 

 

— Updated at 5:50 p.m.