Officials Fear Report on CIA Could Inflame Global Tensions

Monday, 07 Jul 2014 09:19 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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A controversial,$40 million report on the CIA's enhanced interrogations techniques during former President George W. Bush's administration could put Americans in danger while inflaming the Middle East, officials fear.

Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee who produced the report say it documents "shocking" brutality, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, the use of dogs, and more to gather information, The Hill reports.  Republicans are boycotting the document, saying they dispute its findings.

The White House and CIA are working on the final cuts to a 481-page executive summary of the Democrats' investigation, and the CIA reports its declassification process should be finished by the end of August.

However, the report may not be coming out at the end of August or beginning of September, because of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, for fear that terror groups may strike as they did two years ago at the diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

The CIA reports the document still needs "implementation of security measures to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel and facilities overseas," but the White House wants it out quickly while keeping an eye on the security situation.

"The president has been clear that he wants this process completed as expeditiously as possible, and he’s also been clear that it must be done consistent with our national security," National Security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement emailed to The Hill. "Prior to the release of any information related to the former [rendition, detention and interrogation] program, the administration will also need to look at any potential security implications and take a series of steps to prepare our personnel and facilities overseas."

Last year, the State Department warned the report could strain diplomatic relations and expose which countries hosted "black sites," where the CIA interrogated prisoners. Further, two Republicans on the committee, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and James Risch of Idaho said they were worried about security concerns and voted against declassifying the reports.

However, former CIA case officer Reuel Marc Gerecht, who says he supports "aggressive interrogations," said the warnings are "make-believe" and that "given the Middle East is cracking up, this [report] will not even measure on the Richter scale," he said.

The CIA is also pushing back on the investigation's findings, including claims it misled Congress and the Bush White House over its techniques. They say the classified program was legal and helped capture al-Qaida leaders and prevent further attacks on the United States and its interests.

The Senate Democrats said that the methods, which President Barack Obama banned with an executive order upon taking office, did not net any useful intelligence. Further, Intelligence Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said it is important to release the information.

But they are taking a political risk if the report is released before the November elections, as it would give Republicans ammunition against Obama's record on national security.

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