On Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify the executive summary and conclusions from its report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), charwoman of the committee, released a written statement, stating that “[t]he report exposes a brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation…. This is not what Americans do.”
Senator Angus King (I-ME) told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that the CIA “significantly overestimated” the value of waterboarding or simulated drowning, and other techniques that can only be defined as torture.
Republicans on the committee have been critical of the report, referring it as a one-sided attempt to discredit the CIA. Others critics of the report include Jose Rodriguez, the CIA’s chief clandestine officer in the mid-2000s, who had operational oversight over the detention and interrogation program. According to Rodriguez, “[n]either I or anyone else at he agency who had knowledge was interviewed. They don’t want to hear anyone else’s narrative. It is an attempt to rewrite history.”
The release did attract some Republican support, namely from Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). Senator Chambliss released a statement in support of the release, but also gave credence to the CIA detention and interrogation program. Of particular interest was this statement from Chambliss:
“While I agree with some of the conclusions in this report, I take strong exception to the notion that the CIA’s detention and interrogation program did not provide intelligence that was helpful in disrupting terrorist attacks or tracking down Usama bin Ladin. This claim contradicts the factual record and is just flat wrong. Intelligence was gained from detainees in the program, both before and after the application of enhanced interrogation techniques…”
Now the question is what these “before” techniques were, and if they had been useful, why were there “after” techniques?
The report itself will hopefully be released in the upcoming weeks. There has been speculation that its release will have ramifications on the Guantanamo hearings, but this will remain speculative until the reports are actually declassified, and the public can see exactly what was released. While a lot can be damning, a lot can also be skirted when the government is only releasing an executive summary and 20 conclusions.
Alexandra Kutner, Research Fellow
Center for Policy and Research