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What's Holding Up Release Of The CIA 'Torture Report'?
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What's Holding Up Release Of The CIA 'Torture Report'?

National Security

What's Holding Up Release Of The CIA 'Torture Report'?

What's Holding Up Release Of The CIA 'Torture Report'?
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The CIA, whose post-Sept. 11 interrogation techniques are said to be blasted in the report, has blacked out large parts of the unreleased summary.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

More than half-a-year has gone by since the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to release the executive summary of a secret report on CIA treatment of terrorism detainees. But despite the vote the summary of the so-called, torture report, remains under wraps. And the reason for the delay, as NPR's David Welna explains, lies with the CIA itself.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: For the Intelligence Panel's executive summary to be made public, it first had to be vetted, that job went to none other than the very spy agency whose interrogation techniques the report condemns. So the CIA working, with the White House took that summary and blacked out parts it claimed would reveal protected sources in spycraft.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: The problem is too much was redacted. That's for sure.

WELNA: Dianne Feinstein is the California Democrat who chairs the Intelligence Panel. The redacted version of the report that the committee got back from the CIA in August, she says, was simply incomprehensible.

FEINSTEIN: We have been working with the White House and the staff's been working with those who are doing the redacting, who are CIA. Trying to come to agreement so that when we put out a report it's both understandable and comprehensive and that is difficult to achieve.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SENATOR RON WYDEN: Some of these reductions and I use this word specifically, are just ludicrous.

WELNA: That's Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, a senior member of the Intelligence Panel. Wyden accuses the CIA of playing a game for months that he calls stall-ball.

WYDEN: They know that when this report comes out, many Americans are going to be profoundly disturbed, number one. They're going to see that in a number of instances the intelligence leadership has not been straight with them.

WELNA: That view that the CIA's interrogation methods during the George W. Bush administration amounted to torture is not shared by many Republicans. Georgia's Saxby Chambliss is the Intelligence Panel's top Republican. For him the problem is not what the CIA redacted, it's the report itself.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SENATOR SAXBY CHAMBLISS: It is a work product of the Democratic staff on the Senate Intelligence Committee. There are a lot of biases in there as a result of that and that's unfortunate.

WELNA: The timing of when the executive summary might be released is not only a matter of resolving differences over redactions. That's because in the months since the Intelligence Panel voted to declassify, reports surfaced about Islamic State insurgents in Syria and Iraq, subjecting people they'd captured to waterboarding. That simulated drowning interrogation technique, which is widely considered torture, was also used by the CIA and figures prominently in the Senate report according to some who've read it. Idaho Republican Jim Risch voted against releasing the summary. He thinks it would only provide fodder for enemy propaganda.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SENATOR JIM RISCH: It just serves no useful purpose so long as we're still engaged as heavily as we are engaged with radical Islamic terrorists.

WELNA: But pressure to release the report's long stalled executive summary has been growing. Some of it is coming from a group of 17 former U.S. intelligence and interrogation professionals.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GLENN CARLE: Candor and an assessment of what we did right and wrong is a strength.

WELNA: Glenn Carle is a member of that group. He spent 23 years as a CIA operative, before quitting seven years ago. Carle says the torture report, as he calls it, needs to come out.

CARLE: Long-term I think it will have a very positive effect on our society and the function of our government. Short-term it could be problematic because it will show that we did things that we don't need to do and should've done.

WELNA: Just when the CIA's scrubbed summary of that report will be made public is still not clear. Democrat Wyden warns that his patience is reaching its limit.

WYDEN: There are a number of ways to get this report out and if the CIA continues this stonewalling and stall-ball kind of strategy, certainly there'll be an effort to look at them.

WELNA: Wyden did not specify just what those ways might be. David Welna, NPR News. Washington.

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