Panel votes to declassify CIA torture report

The 6,200-page document would give first official look at interrogation and detentions in aftermath of 9/11 attacks.

    The US Senate Intelligence Committee has voted on to declassify its long-awaited report on the CIA's use of brutal interrogation methods that critics say amount to torture.

    "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 be allowed to happen again. This is not what Americans do.

    US Senator Dianne Feinstein

    Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat who chairs the committee, said the vote was 11-3 to declassify what she called the "shocking" results of investigating the Central Intelligence Agency practices under Republican President George W Bush.

    The vote to lift the blackout on the summary and recommendations of the 6,200-page report follows an unprecedented clash by Feinstein with the CIA, and would give the world its first official look at its regimen of interrogation and detentions in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

    "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 be allowed to happen again. This is not what Americans do," Feinstein told reporters after the committee voted during a classified meeting.

    It will still be weeks - if not longer - before any of the document is cleared for release.

    Some committee Republicans voted with the Democrats in favour of declassifying the report, but it was clear there were bitter divides within the panel.

    The investigation began four years ago but was conducted only by Democrats. Republicans declined to participate because they felt it was too biased.

    Bitter dispute

    The three no-votes were all from Republicans - Senators Dan Coats of Indiana, Marco Rubio of Florida and James Risch of Idaho. In a joint statement, Rubio and Risch called the report "one-sided and partisan" and said its release could endanger Americans overseas and risk US relations with other countries.

    Congressional and intelligence sources said the report strongly condemned now-abandoned interrogation techniques such as "waterboarding" or simulated drowning, and concluded that they did not produce significant counter-terrorism breakthroughs.

    The report is at the centre of a bitter dispute between Feinstein and the spy agency over whether the CIA secretly monitored the panel's investigation.

    Feinstein, normally one of Congress' strongest supporters of the intelligence community, accused the CIA in March of spying on Congress as it conducted the probe and possibly breaking the law.

    And a top CIA lawyer complained to the Justice Department that Senate investigators accessed privileged agency records without proper authorisation.

    On Thursday, Feinstein said the report points to "major problems" with the CIA's management of the interrogation programme, and its interaction with the White House, Congress and other parts of government.

    The Senate panel will now ask the White House to declassify the politically sensitive report.

    An administration spokeswoman said President Barack Obama wanted this to happen as quickly as possible. Obama halted the interrogation programme shortly after taking office in 2009.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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