Senate Intelligence Committee Votes to Release Torture Report Critical of CIA

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 3 2014 8:30 PM

Senate Intelligence Committee Votes to Release Torture Report Critical of CIA

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Security and intelligence officials testify during a hearing before Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee January 29, 2014.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted on Thursday to release a report on the CIA’s interrogation methods that found brutal measures, like waterboarding, were ineffective in gathering intelligence. The secret report also found that the CIA misrepresented the severity of its techniques and overall success of the program. The decision to declassify portions of the review, the Associated Press reports, “sets the stage for what could be the fullest public accounting of the Bush administration's record when it comes to waterboarding and other ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.’”

Here’s more on the report’s findings via the Washington Post:

The report, based on a review of millions of internal CIA records, found scant evidence that the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques generated meaningful intelligence. It accuses agency officials of overstating the significance of alleged terrorist plots and prisoners, and exaggerating the effectiveness of the program by claiming credit for information detainees surrendered before they were subjected to duress. For years, the agency made inaccurate statements to the president, the National Security Council and Congress, [Independent Maine Sen. Angus] King said. “That’s one of the most disturbing parts of this — the institutional failure.”
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The Senate committee voted 11-3 to release the material and, according to the AP, even some Republicans who were skeptical of the accuracy of the findings voted for its public disclosure saying "it was important for the country to move on.” The White House has shown support for making public the findings. The decision to release the report comes as the intelligence committee and the CIA have clashed publicly. As the AP reports: “Senators accuse the agency of spying on their investigation and deleting files” and “the CIA says Senate staffers illegally accessed information.”

Here’s more on the compiling, and decision to release, the report via the AP:

The report was produced exclusively by Democratic staffers. It concludes among other things that waterboarding and other harsh techniques provided no key evidence in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to congressional aides and outside experts familiar with the document. Feinstein and other senators also have cited a series of misleading claims by the CIA over the years about the effectiveness of the program, including in statements the agency made to President George W. Bush and Congress.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the intelligence committee's top Republican, joined the vote in favor of declassification despite criticizing the report as a "waste of time." He said the U.S. public should be able to see the report alongside reservations among the GOP members of the committee… Members of the intelligence community have criticized the investigation for failing to include interviews from top spy agency officials who authorized or supervised the brutal interrogations. They questioned how the review could be fair or complete.

Officials told the Washington Post that the process of declassifying the material could take months.


Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.