Kerry said to pressure Senate over CIA ‘torture report’

Secretary of State John Kerry personally phoned the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee to “discuss the broader implications” of a controversial upcoming analysis of the CIA, the State Department said on Friday.

Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that in his phone call, Kerry reiterated the administration’s support for Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) decision to release a 600-page summary of the classified controversial report, and “made clear that the timing is of course her choice.”

{mosads}Kerry, however, “wanted to make sure that foreign policy implications were being appropriately factored into timing,” including ongoing efforts against Islamic extremists and the safety of American hostages around the world, Psaki said in her statement.

Psaki’s statement came after reports from the Associated Press and Bloomberg View that Kerry’s call was intended to raise concerns about the timing of the report, which is expected out next week.

Psaki on Friday evening rebutted that the call was intended to delay the report, which has been the subject of heated negotiations for months.

“That anyone would mischaracterize this call or question reasonable, proper, private discussions raises questions about what they’re trying to accomplish,” she said.

A spokesman for Feinstein declined to comment on the reported phone call.

White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said that President Obama has called for the report to be released “as expeditiously as possible,” and added that the White House “welcomed the news” that it was planned for public release next week.

“The precise timing is up to Senator Feinstein and the committee,” Meehan added, while declining to comment on Kerry’s reported call.

The Intelligence Committee’s report is the product of years of research from the Senate panel and is expected to detail in brutal terms how the CIA used “enhanced interrogation” techniques such as waterboarding. The version to be released to the public is an executive summary of a 6,200-page report by the panel, which has been dubbed the “torture report” by critics of the techniques.

In recent months, the committee has been in tense negotiations with the administration over redactions in the report. Administration officials have pushed to keep identifying details about CIA agents and other countries secret, but lawmakers have said that the administration’s changes make the report virtually unreadable. 

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who has fought for the report’s release, said it was “not surprising that members of the administration are raising an objection at the 11th hour, because there have been objections at every other hour.” 

“Americans will be profoundly disturbed and angered when they read it,” he added in a statement. “But it’s important to get the facts out even if they make people uncomfortable, because that’s the only way to prevent the mistakes of the past from being repeated.”

If the report is delayed beyond next week, it could come out after Congress has left Washington, depriving many lawmakers of an opportunity to discuss the results publicly and with each other.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), an ardent critic of the CIA programs who was defeated in his reelection race this year, has previously threatened to read the contents of the report on the Senate floor, for which he has immunity.

A spokesman on Friday indicated that further delay in the report’s release could convince him to do just that.

“Sen. Udall remains committed to getting the truth out about the CIA’s misguided, brutal and ineffective detention and interrogation program,” Mike Saccone said in a statement shared with The Hill. “His belief has not wavered.”

In his statement, Wyden seemed supportive of that notion. 

“This report must see the light of day before Congress adjourns this year,” he said. “And if the Executive Branch isn’t willing to cooperate the Senate should be willing to act unilaterally to ensure that happens.”

This post was updated at 6:28 p.m.

Tags Central Intelligence Agency CIA report Dianne Feinstein Dianne Feinstein John Kerry John Kerry Mark Udall Ron Wyden torture report

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