WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday the panel’s long-awaited report on brutal CIA interrogation practices used after the 9/11 terror attacks stands as a record of “a stain on our values and on our history.”
Saying her words “give me no pleasure,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein stood before the Senate to summarize the committee’s seven-year effort to uncover and evaluate the truth about CIA interrogation methods and whether they worked.
Her conclusions were unequivocal: The harsh interrogation methods didn’t work, she said, and the tactics were “far more brutal than people were led to believe.”
The California Democrat said that releasing the committee’s 500-page report was an important step toward restoring American values. And she rejected the idea that the report should remain under wraps to avoid inflaming tensions around the world.
“There may never be the right time to release this report,” she said, then quickly added: “This report is too important to shelve indefinitely.”
Releasing the report “can and does say to our people that America is big enough to admit when it’s wrong and confident enough to learn from its mistakes,” Feinstein said.
The report, she added, is “an important step to restore our values and show the world that we are in fact a just and lawful society.”
President Barack Obama said in a statement these practices damaged America’s standing in the world.
“The report documents a troubling program involving enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects in secret facilities outside the United States, and it reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests,” Obama said. “Moreover, these techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners. That is why I will continue to use my authority as President to make sure we never resort to those methods again.”
The GOP offered a rebuttal report, defending the CIA’s interrogation tactics.
“The rendition, detention, and interrogation program [the CIA] created, of which enhanced interrogation was only a small part, enabled a stream of collection and intelligence validation that was unprecedented,” the report released by Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee read, according to CBS News. “The most important capability this program provided had nothing to do with enhanced interrogation–it was the ability to hold and question terrorists, who, if released, would certainly return to the fight, but whose guilt would be difficult to establish in a criminal proceeding without compromising sensitive sources and methods… We have no doubt that the CIA’s detention program saved lives and played a vital role in weakening al Qa’ida while the Program was in operation.”
The report continued: “In reviewing the information the CIA provided for the Study, however, we were in awe of what the men and women of the CIA accomplished in their efforts to prevent another attack.”
Former Vice President Dick Cheney called the report a “bunch of hooey.”
“What I keep hearing out there is they portray this as a rogue operation, and the agency was way out of bounds and then they lied about it,” Cheney told The New York Times. “I think that’s all a bunch of hooey. The program was authorized. The agency did not want to proceed without authorization, and it was also reviewed legally by the Justice Department before they undertook the program.”
CBS News reports that the Justice Department is not expected to file criminal charges against CIA officers who participated in these interrogation practices.
Feinstein’s committee began its study of the CIA’s interrogation practices early in 2009, and worked its way through more than 6 million pages of documents on its way to producing a 6,700 page report, which remains classified. The 500 pages released Tuesday represent an executive summary and conclusions from that longer study, which was completed in 2012.
With Democrats losing control of the Senate in the midterm elections, Feinstein will hand over control of the committee to the Republicans in January.
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