Obama Fears Violent Backlash to CIA Torture Report's Release

Thursday, 15 May 2014 10:37 PM

By Jason Devaney

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The Obama administration is concerned about potential violent backlash against members of the U.S. intelligence and military communities after the upcoming release of a secret Senate report about CIA torture.

The report, which details parts of Bush-era interrogations including waterboarding and threats of violence from 2001-2008, also contains the list of U.S. allies that provided "black sites" for the program. Officials are still debating whether to redact that portion of the report, according to Politico.  A 400-page summary of the 6,200-page report is to be released.

"Certainly, this is something that was thought of when we finally came to our position about whether or not this report should be released," a senior administration official told Politico.

"The president's view is the need for transparency and the need for accountability outweigh the concerns about security, or we feel we can take steps to limit that. … But it's really important how this is redacted."

Justice Department lawyers said the report must undergo a declassification procedure that includes choosing which portions to redact. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who is chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told NPR this week it could be made public in July.

There must also be a plan in place to prepare for any violence against Americans and allies triggered by its contents. That plan, according to the Politico report, will include taking security precautions at U.S. bases and installations overseas.

The report also includes a section on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, which ended when American special forces stormed his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011. He was killed in the raid and his body was buried at sea. The report concludes that old-fashioned intelligence and detective work, not CIA torture, led to bin Laden's discovery.

The administration is concerned the the report could spark violent outbursts and anti-American sentiment across the world. The fear is that the safety of U.S. troops, intelligence operatives, and non-Intelligence personnel could be at risk.

"Once we are close to the declassification review being complete, one of the steps we're going to have to take before the release of whatever the final product is is to prepare our personnel overseas for this release and the potential violence," the administration official told Politico.

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