Secret CIA Torture Report Outed by Senator
Senate Intelligence Committe and CIA squabble over information sharing, public is left in dark about Bush era torture regime
The CIA must release a previously unknown and classified internal study that is said to detail torture and secret detentions conducted by the agency, Senator Mark Udall urged Tuesday at a confirmation hearing for Caroline Krass, a nominee for the CIA's general counsel.
Leading the charge among members on the committee calling for more transparency and better cooperation from the clandestine agency, Udall said he would not support Krass' nomination until the internal report—which has so far been kept even from members of the Senate Intelligence Committee—is released.
According to a statement put out by the Udall's office, the senator's understanding is that the CIA's internal report, initiated by former CIA Director Leon Panetta, reached similar conclusions to those in the committee's 6,300-page study, which was approved and sent to the CIA in December 2012.
In order to put pressure on the CIA, Udall used Thursday's hearings to push the issue. As Reuters reports:
Udall asked Krass to ensure that the CIA provide the committee a copy of the internal review [...] of the agency's detention and interrogation program.
"It appears that this review ... is consistent with the Intelligence Committee's report, but, amazingly, it conflicts with the official CIA response to the committee's report," Udall said.
"If this is true, it raises fundamental questions about why a review the CIA conducted internally years ago and never provided to the committee is so different from the CIA's formal written response to the committee's study," he added.
The report's existence was not public knowledge until Udall questioned Krass during the hearing.
Udall said that the committee have "requested a copy of the internal review, but the CIA has yet to provide it."
The Senate's own investigation, which has also been classified, is said to document the brutality of the CIA torture's program, but calls to make that report public have so far been resisted by the both the CIA and the White House.
Udall says he has pressed for a public statement from the White House "committing to the fullest possible declassification" of the committee's own study, in addition to the CIA's response.
As The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman reports, "It is unclear if the committee will reject Krass's nomination. But the two-hour exchange highlighted the difficulties the intelligence committees can face in getting basic factual information from the intelligence agencies they are tasked with overseeing."
Asked directly and repeatedly if the Senate panel was entitled to the memos, which several senators claimed were crucial for performing their oversight functions, Krass replied: "I do not think so, as a general matter."
Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the committee, suggested that Krass placed her nomination as CIA general counsel in jeopardy. "You are going to encounter some heat in that regard," Feinstein said.
The Senate intelligence committee, whose public hearings are increasingly rare, is usually a bastion of support for the CIA and its sister intelligence agencies. The exception is the committee's prolonged fight with the CIA over a 6,300-page report on the agency's torture of terrorism detainees in its custody since 9/11.
The committee has prepared its report for years; the former chairman, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, said the classified version contains 50,000 footnotes. For a year, the panel has sought to release a public version that multiple members of the panel say documents both the brutality of CIA torture and what they have called "lies" told by the CIA to the oversight committees in Congress and the rest of the executive branch concerning its torture practices.
CIA director John Brennan, who was a senior CIA official during the years scrutinised by the committee, is resisting release of the report. The CIA has told reporters that the report contains numerous factual errors, which Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat on the panel, said on Tuesday was a "misleading" and self-serving description of differences of "interpretation" between the agency and the committee. "I'm more confident than ever in the factual accuracy" of the torture report, Udall said.
Watch a portion of Udall's exchange below: