The public is soon to get its first look at a voluminous report on the US CIA’s detention and interrogation practices during the administration of former US president George W. Bush, after the US Senate Intelligence Committee voted on Thursday to declassify key sections of it.
“The report exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation,” committee chairwoman Senator Dianne Feinstein said in a written statement after the vote, adding: “This is not what Americans do.”
The committee voted to declassify the report’s executive summary and conclusions — more than 500 of its 6,200 pages.
The next step is US President Barack Obama’s approval. Obama, who opposed the CIA program as a presidential candidate and discontinued it once he took office in 2009, has said he wants the findings of the report to be made public.
The White House would not say how long it would take the US administration to review the report for sensitive national security disclosures, but a spokeswoman said the process, which is to include a review by the CIA, would be expedited.
“We urge the committee to complete the report and send it to us, so that we can declassify the findings and the American people can understand what happened in the past, and that can help guide us as we move forward,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said. “We’ll do that as expeditiously as we can.”
People who have read the report, written by the US Senate committee, say it offers the most detailed look to date on the CIA’s brutal methods of interrogating terrorism suspects in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
It concludes that the spy agency repeatedly misled US Congress, the White House and the public about the benefits of the program, under which more than 100 detainees were interrogated.
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said the agency would do its part to make sure the classification review took place “expeditiously.”
He said that the CIA had not seen a final version of the report on the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program, but that it disagreed with portions of a 2012 version.
“The CIA has acknowledged and learned from the RDI program’s shortcomings and has taken corrective measures to prevent such mistakes from happening again,” Boyd said. “At the same time, we owe it to the men and women directed to carry out this program to try and ensure that any historical account of it is accurate.”
US Republicans on the committee have been harshly critical of the report, calling it a one-sided attempt to discredit the CIA and the Bush administration. As a result, they have refused to take part in the investigation.
Even so, the vote did attract some Republican support.
“Despite the report’s significant errors, omissions and assumptions — as well as a lot of cherry-picking of the facts — I want the American people to be able to see it and judge for themselves,” US Senator Saxby Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the committee, said in a written statement.
The committee also approved the declassification of the Republican dissent from the report’s conclusions and the CIA’s response to the investigation.