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Text of Feinstein statement on CIA investigations
Question of the Day
Text of Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein’s statement on the Senate floor about her committee’s investigation into allegations of CIA abuse in its detention and interrogation program, as provided by her office:
Over the past week, there have been numerous press articles written about the Intelligence Committee’s oversight review of the Detention and Interrogation Program of the CIA; specifically, press attention has focused on the CIA’s intrusion and search of the Senate Select Committee’s computers as well as the committee’s acquisition of a certain internal CIA document known as the Panetta Review.
I rise today to set the record straight and to provide a full accounting of the facts and history.
Let me say up front that I come to the Senate floor reluctantly. Since Jan. 15, 2014, when I was informed of the CIA’s search of this committee’s network, I have been trying to resolve this dispute in a discreet and respectful way. I have not commented in response to media requests for additional information on this matter. However, the increasing amount of inaccurate information circulating now cannot be allowed to stand unanswered.
The origin of this study: The CIA’s detention and interrogation program began operations in 2002, though it was not until September 2006 that members of the Intelligence Committee, other than the chairman and vice chairman, were briefed. In fact, we were briefed by then-CIA Director Hayden only hours before President Bush disclosed the program to the public.
A little more than a year later, on Dec. 6, 2007, a New York Times article revealed the troubling fact that the CIA had destroyed videotapes of some of the CIA’s first interrogations using so-called “enhanced techniques.” We learned that this destruction was over the objections of President Bush’s White House Counsel and the Director of National Intelligence.
After we read about the tapes’ destruction in the newspapers, Director Hayden briefed the Senate Intelligence Committee. He assured us that this was not destruction of evidence, as detailed records of the interrogations existed on paper in the form of CIA operational cables describing the detention conditions and the day-to-day CIA interrogations.
The CIA director stated that these cables were “a more than adequate representation” of what would have been on the destroyed tapes. Director Hayden offered at that time, during Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s chairmanship of the committee, to allow members or staff to review these sensitive CIA operational cables given that the videotapes had been destroyed.
Chairman Rockefeller sent two of his committee staffers out to the CIA on nights and weekends to review thousands of these cables, which took many months. By the time the two staffers completed their review into the CIA’s early interrogations in early 2009, I had become chairman of the committee and President Obama had been sworn into office.
The resulting staff report was chilling. The interrogations and the conditions of confinement at the CIA detention sites were far different and far more harsh than the way the CIA had described them to us. As result of the staff’s initial report, I proposed, and then-Vice Chairman Bond agreed, and the committee overwhelmingly approved, that the committee conduct an expansive and full review of CIA’s detention and interrogation program.
On March 5, 2009, the committee voted 14-1 to initiate a comprehensive review of the CIA Detention and Interrogation Program. Immediately, we sent a request for documents to all relevant executive branch agencies, chiefly among them the CIA.
Director Panetta proposed an alternative arrangement: to provide literally millions of pages of operational cables, internal emails, memos, and other documents pursuant to the committee’s document requests at a secure location in Northern Virginia. We agreed, but insisted on several conditions and protections to ensure the integrity of this congressional investigation.
Per an exchange of letters in 2009, then-Vice Chairman Bond, then-Director Panetta, and I agreed in an exchange of letters that the CIA was to provide a “stand-alone computer system” with a “network drive” ”segregated from CIA networks” for the committee that would only be accessed by information technology personnel at the CIA - who would “not be permitted to” ”share information from the system with other (CIA) personnel, except as otherwise authorized by the committee.”
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