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Senate Panel Votes To Declassify Report On CIA Interrogations

A Senate panel voted on Thursday to declassify a controversial report on the interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency during the presidency of George W. Bush.

In a statement announcing the vote, Sen. Diane Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the report "exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation."

"It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen," Feinstein adds.

The vote by the 15 member panel doesn't mean the report will be made public yet. As the AP reports, the CIA will now have a chance to look over the report to flag things that could damage national security if released.

The AP adds that many in the intelligence community worry the report is one-sided:

"Some in the intelligence community said the Senate report, which was written by the committee's Democratic staff, was missing a key element: the voices of key CIA officials. Those missing include former Bush administration officials involved in authorizing the use of waterboarding and other harsh questioning methods, or managing their use in secret 'black site' prisons overseas."

Earlier this week, The Washington Post published a story that detailed some of what that report found. Based on officials who have reviewed it, the Post reported:

"A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques."

The report and the committee's work to complete it have been at the center of a very public feud between the CIA and Feinstein.

As Bill reported, during a scathing speech in March, Feinstein accused the CIA of tampering with her panel's work.

The panel wants to declassify a 400-page summary of the report's key findings.

Update at 7:05 p.m. ET. CIA Will Review Report:

In a statement, Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, said this vote "is a big step towards making sure that all Americans know the truth about torture."

Anders said, however, that the White House should conduct the review itself and not hand the CIA "a black-out pen to hide its use of torture or the lies it told to keep the torture program going."

The White House's National Security Council tweeted that they were pleased with the Senate panel's vote and President Obama wants the declassification process to be expeditious.

"The CIA, in consultation with other agencies, will conduct the declassification review," the National Security Council said.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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