“The president owes certain people freedom of action; particularly when they’re defending their agency,” Hayden said.
The CIA says it disputes significant parts of Feinstein’s 6,300-page report, which remains secret. And while Obama has said he wants to declassify parts of the report, people close to the administration say the White House is weighing the effect on current CIA officials who were involved in the harsh interrogations, as well as the possibility that new details about the program could inflame anti-US sentiment in the Arab world and in Afghanistan.
The interrogations program was one of several initiatives Obama inherited from Bush that he pledged to change or end altogether. However, fulfilling each of those promises has proven deeply complicated.
Despite Obama’s repeated pledges to shut down the prison for terrorist suspects at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the facility remains open. The president has run into intractable opposition from Republicans who do not want to transfer detainees to prisons in the US, severely limiting the administration’s options.
Obama was also critical as a presidential candidate of the domestic surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency.
However, after moving into the Oval Office, Obama kept most of the programs in place, adding what officials said was a more robust system of checks and balances to monitor the programs.