WASHINGTON – A Senate panel appears likely to demand the release of a contentious torture report that has sharply divided lawmakers and the CIA, as two centrist senators joined the push Wednesday for a summary of the review to be declassified.
In a joint statement, Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King said the still-classified Senate intelligence committee investigation would show the CIA tortured some terror detainees in its war on terror after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. And they accused the agency of mismanaging its "enhanced interrogation program."
Collins and King are among the newest members of the intelligence panel, which will vote Thursday on whether to demand that the 6,200-page report's summary and key findings be made available to the public. Collins is a moderate Republican. King is an independent who caucuses with Democrats. All Democrats on the committee are likely to vote for declassification.
That step would initiate a process that could exacerbate a bitter rift between Senate investigators and CIA officials that includes dueling charges of snooping and competing criminal referrals to the Justice Department. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the committee chair, accuses the agency of improperly monitoring the computer use of Senate staffers and deleting files, undermining the Constitution's separation of powers. The CIA alleges the intelligence panel illegally accessed certain documents.
The two sides also remain at odds over the contents of the classified report. Congressional aides and outside experts familiar with the document say it is harshly critical of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, and concludes among other things that such practices provided no key evidence in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The CIA disputes many of the conclusions in the report.
Collins and King said they don't endorse all of the investigation's findings. They said it was limited because no CIA or executive branch officials were interviewed and Republican staff wasn't involved. But they said it was important to allow Americans to make their own conclusions, using the report alongside a CIA rebuttal and any dissenting views among intelligence committee members.
"We remain strongly opposed to the use of torture, believing that it is fundamentally contrary to American values," the senators said. "While we have some concerns about the process for developing the report, its findings lead us to conclude that some detainees were subjected to techniques that constituted torture. This inhumane and brutal treatment never should have occurred."