The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee has called for a full congressional inquiry to move forward on controversial George W. Bush-era interrogation and detention methods.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, speaking Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said she hopes that public outrage regarding the memos will soon subside so that Congress can calmly and fully investigate the issue.
“We need to find these things out and we need to do it in a way that’s calm and deliberative and professional, because I think all of this, on the front burner, before the public, does harm our intelligence gathering, it does harm America’s position in the world,” she said.
Mrs. Feinstein also said the White House didn’t contact her before releasing documents last week that detailed now-banned CIA interrogation tactics used during the previous administration. Tactics included simulated drowning and other harsh techniques used on suspected al Qaeda leader Abu Zubayda.
When Mrs. Feinstein was asked whether she thought it was a mistake the Obama administration didn’t inform her before releasing the documents publicly, she said she would have preferred that the documents had remained classified until her committee had finished its investigation in order to “see everything in context and make some decisions.”
President Obama’s top adviser, Valerie Jarrett, said Sunday that there is nothing in those newly released interrogation memos that the American people didn’t already know.
Ms. Jarrett said the Obama administration released Bush-era documents so that the country could move forward.
“We are a nation of laws and the law requires us to release the documents unless there’s some national security interest that would make it more important to keep them secret,” Ms. Jarrett said on “State of the Union.”
She added that it’s up to the attorney general to determine who - if anyone - would be prosecuted.
The controversy also has sparked debate among some former Bush officials, who argue that they were not properly warned by CIA officials about the potential perils of the severe methods, and others who insist there were explicit cautions.
A former senior Bush administration official familiar with the deliberations told the Associated Press that during a meeting of Bush senior officials in May 2002, CIA Director George J. Tenet, backed by agency lawyers and CIA officers, reassured National Security Council Director Condoleezza Rice, Attorney General John Ashcroft and others that waterboarding and other harsh techniques were safe and necessary.