- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) - The festering dispute between the CIA and Senate investigators that exploded in public this week shows just how hard it can be to learn from the past and move on.

More than 12 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the government still is struggling with what kind of public reckoning is due for harsh interrogation techniques introduced by President George W. Bush and banned by his successor, President Barack Obama.

Some questions and answers about how the Senate and the CIA got here and what happens next:


Q: What are the CIA and the senators quarreling about?

A: The CIA likes to hold its secrets close. It’s the job of the Senate Intelligence Committee, along with its House counterpart, to keep tabs on the spy agency. Those interests have collided during the Senate committee’s exhaustive review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. Since 2009, the committee has worked on a classified report about waterboarding and other harsh methods used to interrogate suspected terrorists in overseas prisons. This week, the head of the Senate committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., went public with complaints that the CIA was interfering with the investigation.


Q: Why is Washington still arguing about this?

A: When Obama took office five years ago, he quickly acted to ban “enhanced interrogation” methods, close the secret prisons and release the Bush-era legal opinions that had authorized the program. Just two months later, Feinstein’s committee began its investigation, and soon discovered how arduous a task it can be to unravel the past. The committee has had to plod through 6.2 million pages of CIA documents, shared under strict ground rules that allow investigators to review them only at a CIA-controlled secure site in northern Virginia.


Q: Why is Feinstein so upset with the CIA?

A: Feinstein alleges a long pattern of CIA cover-ups:

-destroying videotapes of some of the first enhanced interrogations of Sept. 11 suspects.

-dumping millions of pages of electronic documents on the Senate investigators with no index or organization.

-secretly taking back hundreds of the pages from the document cache.

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