US embassies yesterday were on heightened alert amid fears of a backlash to a long-delayed US Senate report into the CIA’s brutal interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects after the 2001 terror attacks on the US.
White House officials on Monday said they expect the report to be published, even though US Secretary of State John Kerry warned late last week about the impact it could have around the world.
While heavily redacted, the report is expected to be a damning indictment of a secret program under the administration of former US president George W. Bush to question dozens of terror detainees.
Since coming to office in 2009, US President Barack Obama has sought to distance the US from past deeds and outlawed harsh interrogation techniques which he has denounced as “torture.”
“We have heard from the committee that they do intend to release the report tomorrow,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
“Prudent steps” had been taken to boost security at US facilities and diplomatic missions abroad in case the report triggers a wave of fury, he added.
The report is understood to cover the treatment of about 100 terror suspects rounded up by US operatives from 2001 to 2009, after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by al-Qaeda which destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City and damaged the Pentagon.
The suspects were subjected to waterboarding, stress positions and other harsh methods, in a series of interrogations either at CIA-run secret prisons or the Guantanamo Bay US military base in Cuba.
US media said the report is also expected to reveal that the CIA misled the White House about the details and success of the program.
“We tortured some folks,” Obama said in August, talking about the contents of the report.
The CIA’s defenders insist the methods saved US lives by helping to uncover al-Qaeda’s network, while critics say they ran contrary to US values and hardened anti-US attitudes.
The 6,200-page report has been prepared by the US Senate intelligence Committee.
Committee chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, sparred for months with the administration over proposed redactions.
In April, the committee voted overwhelmingly to release a reportedly severely critical 500-page executive summary and 20 conclusions of the secret document.
However, the lawmakers had to negotiate with the White House on redactions first — something Feinstein, who called the report’s findings “shocking,” pledged to do.
Feinstein on Monday told reporters that she wants Americans reading the report to see that “when we make mistakes we admit them ... and we move on.”
The US Department of State said that it has put its missions around the world on watch, and asked them to review security arrangements ahead of the report’s release.
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