Republicans and Democrats joined forces yesterday in a vote to declassify a CIA interrogations report that is expected to cause a great deal of controversy upon its release. The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 11-3 to release the report. The report will now go to the White House, who applauded the Senate vote and will soon receive the report to make its own set of redactions. The CIA has said it will “expeditiously” review the report to move it forward for release to the public.
In a surprisingly lopsided vote on Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted overwhelmingly to declassify a long-awaited and controversial report on the CIA’s brutal program for interrogating suspected militants.
The 11-3 vote caps months of debate and is a sign of the growing rift between the intelligence community and its overseers on Capitol Hill. Officials who are familiar with the prisoners say it details cases of detainees who were dunked in cold water, battered with truncheons, and slammed against concrete walls. These officials say it concludes subjecting prisoners to such harsh interrogations, including what human rights groups and others call torture, may have been counterproductive, and that the techniques didn’t produce any leads that helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden. Other officials bitterly dispute that claim and say the report is deeply flawed and inaccurate.
“The release of this summary and conclusions in the near future shows that this nation admits its errors, as painful as they may be, and seeks to learn from them,” said California Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the committee. “We are acknowledging those mistakes, and we have a continuing responsibility to make sure nothing like this ever occurs again.”
A CIA spokesman, meanwhile, said the agency would carry out a declassification review of the report “expeditiously.”
“The CIA has acknowledged and learned from the [enhanced interrogation] program’s shortcomings and has taken corrective measures to prevent such mistakes from happening again,” the spokesman 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.”
The White House, meanwhile, praised the committee vote to declassify the report. “Having prohibited these practices upon taking office, the president believes that bringing this program into the light will help the American people understand what happened in the past and can help guide us as we move forward, so that no administration contemplates such a program in the future,” Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said in a statement.