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Senate panel vote on releasing CIA study delayed

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Thursday, March 27, 2014, at 5:33 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, March 27, 2014, at 10:05 p.m.

— Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats, locked in an unprecedented power struggle with the CIA, have added substantially to the material they want made public from their study of the agency’s use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods on suspected terrorists, committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Thursday.

“It has been expanded,” she told McClatchy.

Feinstein didn't say what had been added, but others said the expansion added 100 pages to the study’s 300-page executive summary. That will delay a vote that Feinstein had promised by the end of March to send the document to an executive branch declassification review.

That would be the final step in the process of releasing the executive summary of the four-year investigation into the detention and interrogation program. The full report, which cost $40 million and runs in excess of 6,300 pages, likely won’t ever be released.

Feinstein said the declassification vote now likely will be April 3.

“The reason for the delay is a couple of members wanted more time to go over the material,” she said.

Feinstein and several other committee members said that the addition of new material to the executive summary has been completed, though Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the committee’s top Republican, said “it’s been a constant product in motion.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, agreed more time was needed to read the revamped version. After all, she said, “It’s a work in progress.”

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said the holdup is partly because some members want more time to read the report, and partly because some Republicans “object to everything.”

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., another committee member, insisted there were errors in the report, though he would not specify what. But he expected separate Republican views to be issued when the report is final.

The study found that the CIA’s use during the Bush administration of waterboarding – which simulates drowning – and other harsh interrogation methods on suspected terrorists produced very little intelligence of any value, according to lawmakers who’ve read the document.

It also determined that the CIA misled the Bush administration, Congress and the public about the effectiveness of the techniques employed in secret prisons runs by the CIA overseas, they’ve said.

CIA Director John Brennan has disputed some of the findings. Brennan met with the committee Thursday, but Feinstein said the report was not the topic of the meeting.

The expansion of the material that the Democrats plan to make public follows revelations earlier this month of an extraordinary behind-the-scenes confrontation between the committee’s majority lawmakers and the CIA over the report.

In a March 11 speech in the Senate, Feinstein charged that the CIA may have violated the law and the Constitution in 2010 by secretly infiltrating computers used by her staff to prepare the study and removing some of the millions of top-secret documents provided by the agency.

The CIA inspector general’s office has asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation into malfeasance by CIA officials in connection with the alleged intrusions.

The CIA General Counsel’s Office, meanwhile, requested that the Justice Department conduct a criminal probe into the alleged unauthorized removal by Democratic committee staff of classified documents from the top-secret agency facility where the computers were located.

The documents included an internal CIA review of the 6.2 million pages of material provided to the committee that Feinstein and other panel members contend corroborate the study’s main conclusions.

Brennan has rejected that contention, saying that the review was not a formal assessment. He also disputed the committee’s authority to see the review, saying that a major breach in a CIA computer network allowed the staff to access the material

 

Email:dlightman@mcclatchydc.com;Twitter:@lightmandavid

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