Officials fear torture report could spark violence – USA TODAY
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says releasing the U.S. report on torture has been a goal of the administration since President Obama’s first days in office. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
Video provided by Reuters
WASHINGTON — Federal officials braced for possible violence at U.S. facilities around the world as senators prepared to release a report Tuesday detailing the CIA’s torture of suspected terrorists in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
“There are some indications that the release of the report could lead to a greater risk that is posed to U.S. facilities and individuals all around the world,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday. “So the administration has taken the prudent steps to ensure that the proper security precautions are in place at U.S. facilities around the globe.”
The report’s release by the Senate Intelligence Committee sparked a fierce debate in Congress.
Some lawmakers said it’s important for the report to be released so the U.S. government will never again use torture as a method of interrogation. Others said it will inflame extremist groups in the Middle East and elsewhere and threaten the lives of U.S. diplomats, military members and other Americans overseas.
The Intelligence Committee is expected to release Tuesday a 500-page summary of a 6,200-page report on the the CIA’s use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation, humiliation and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” against al-Qaeda prisoners during the George W. Bush administration.
While the revelations of torture are not new, the report will detail the broad scope of the controversial practices, which took place at secret detention centers in the Middle East and Asia. It also will allege that the CIA tried to hide what they were doing from Congress and the White House. Perhaps most controversial of all, it will conclude that the CIA’s tactics failed to gather any useful information to save American lives.
“The president believes that, on principle, it’s important to release that report, so that people around the world and people here at home understand exactly what transpired,” Earnest said. He added that “something like this should never happen again.”
A former CIA official who ran the interrogation program faulted the report. Jose Rodriquez Jr., former head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, said the CIA did what it was asked to do by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“The report’s leaked conclusion, which has been reported on widely, that the interrogation program brought no intelligence value is an egregious falsehood; it’s a dishonest attempt to rewrite history,” Rodriguez wrote in an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Friday. “I’m bemused that the Senate could devote so many resources to studying the interrogation program and yet never once speak to any of the key people involved in it, including the guy who ran it (that would be me).”
Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry asked Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to consider delaying the report’s release. Kerry made the request “because a lot is going on in the world, and he wanted to make sure that foreign policy implications were being appropriately factored into timing,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday.
“These include our ongoing efforts against (the Islamic State) and the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world,” Psaki said.
However, Feinstein plans to go ahead with the release of the report, which has taken about six years to complete. The senator must relinquish her chairmanship of the committee to Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., in January and she fears the new Republican majority will quash the report.
“We have to get this report out,” Feinstein said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times published Sunday. “Anybody who reads this is going to never let this happen again.”
The chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence disagreed.
“I think this is a terrible idea,” House intelligence panel Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “Foreign leaders have approached the government and said, ‘You do this, this will cause violence and deaths.’ Our own intelligence community has assessed that this will cause violence and deaths.”
The report’s release has divided lawmakers of the same party. Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Jim Risch of Idaho have come out against making it public, while GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have said it should be released.
Tensions between the CIA and the Senate intelligence committee reached a boiling point last summer, when CIA officials admitted they hacked the computers of committee staff preparing the report.
Former president George W. Bush said in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that the CIA agents who conducted the interrogations during his administration are “really good people and we’re lucky as a nation to have them.”
“These are patriots and whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base,” Bush said.
President Obama banned the use of torture in an executive order shortly after he took office in January 2009. He also ordered the CIA to close any secret detention facilities overseas and comply with the terms of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit “humiliating and degrading” treatment of prisoners.
“We tortured some folks,” Obama said during a White House news conference in August, referring to CIA action after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the USA. “When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line. And that needs to be understood and accepted.”