White House backs release of CIA interrogation report despite security warnings
The White House on Monday backed the release of a long-anticipated report on the CIA's interrogation techniques, despite warnings from within the administration and from lawmakers that it could lead to a backlash against Americans around the world.
Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration has been preparing "for months" for the report's release, which is expected late Tuesday morning.
"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," Earnest acknowledged. "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."
Earnest said the administration still "strongly supports the release of this declassified summary of the report."
Nevertheless, Secretary of State John Kerry last week asked the Senate Intelligence Committee to "consider" the timing of the release.
The administration's stance was criticized by GOP Sen. Richard Burr, the prospective new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Burr, R-N.C., said that Kerry's request that the report be delayed doesn't jibe with Earnest's comments.
“It’s dumbfounding they can call and ask for it to be delayed and then say they want it out. You can’t have it both ways,” Burr told Fox News.
On Sunday, a top Republican lawmaker warned the release could cause "violence and deaths."
And U.S. officials separately confirmed to Fox News that an advisory has been sent urging U.S. personnel overseas to reassess security measures in anticipation of the release. The message directs all overseas posts, including those used by CIA personnel, to "review their security posture" for a "range of reactions that might occur."
A similar statement was being sent to military combatant commands to assess their readiness. Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said Monday the combatant commands have been urged to "take appropriate force protection measures within their areas of responsibility."
Asked whether the CIA report ought to be released, Warren said that is a "higher-level policy decision," but added "there is certainly the possibility the release of this report could cause unrest."
In Washington, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said America's allies are predicting "this will cause violence and deaths." He said U.S. intelligence agencies and foreign governments have said privately that the release of the Senate intelligence panel report on CIA interrogations a decade ago will be used by extremists to incite violence that is likely to cost lives.
"I think this is a terrible idea," Rogers said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." "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."
Rogers is regularly briefed on intelligence assessments. He questioned why the report needed to become public, given that the Justice Department investigated and filed no criminal charges.
The comments by Rogers came after Kerry on Friday urged Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the senator in charge of the report on CIA interrogations, to reconsider the timing of the release.
In addition, a U.S. intelligence official, who was not authorized to be quoted discussing classified intelligence assessments, told the Associated Press that Congress had been warned "of the heightened potential that the release could stimulate a violent response."
The 480-page report, a summary of a still-classified 6,000 page study, amounts to the first public accounting of the CIA's alleged use of torture on suspected Al Qaeda detainees held in secret facilities in Europe and Asia in the years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
CBS News reported Sunday that the report contains evidence that the CIA went beyond what was "legally allowable," and that the agency lied to the White House, the Department of Justice and Congress about the effectiveness of the program.
The CIA told Fox News it would not comment until the report is released, but former agency officials have told Fox News that the agency's program provided it with foundational intelligence about the Al Qaeda network after the Sept. 11 attacks. Former CIA Director Michael Hayden has previously told Fox News that it is not feasible to believe that three different CIA directors and three different deputy directors of the agency conspired over a seven-year period to lie about the program's effectiveness. Hayden and former CIA General Counsel John Rizzo also have claimed that the program provided evidence that helped direct the 2011 raid that killed Usama bin Laden.
U.S. officials who have read the report say it includes disturbing new details about the CIA's use of such techniques as sleep deprivation, confinement in small spaces, humiliation and the simulated drowning process known as waterboarding.
President Obama has previously acknowledged, "We tortured some folks." The report also says the alleged torture failed to produce life-saving intelligence, a conclusion disputed by current and former intelligence officials, including CIA director John Brennan.
A congressional aide noted to the Associated Press that the White House has led negotiations to declassify the report since April, and that both the president and his director of national intelligence have endorsed its release.
Feinstein has not responded to reports of the Kerry call, though she told the Los Angeles Times in a story published Sunday that "We have to get this report out."
She told the Los Angeles Times that the harsh interrogations undermined "societal and constitutional values that we are very proud of. Anybody who reads this is going to never let this happen again."
Fox News' Catherine Herridge and Justin Fishel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.