Republicans made a last-ditch plea Sunday to stop the release of a long-awaited Senate Democrats’ report on coercive interrogation techniques, with the House Intelligence Committee chair warning that it would result in “violence and deaths.”
Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican, predicted Sunday the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, which is expected to be released Tuesday, would be used as a propaganda tool by terrorist groups to incite anti-American unrest.
“I think this is a terrible idea,” Mr. Rogers said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Our foreign partners are telling us this will cause violence and deaths. Foreign leaders who have approached the government say you do this, it will cause violence and deaths. Our own intelligence community has assessed that this will cause violence and deaths.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein told the San Francisco Chronicle she expects the White House to sign off on the report this week. Secretary of State John F. Kerry reportedly told her to “consider” the timing, according to Bloomberg View, although the administration has denied this.
Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, said in a statement Friday that it is “long past time for the Intelligence Committee’s report on the use of torture and coercive interrogation by the CIA to come to light.”
“It is not surprising that members of the administration are raising an objection at the 11th hour, because there have been objections at every other hour,” said Mr. Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
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Senate Democrats have just days to release their investigation, five years in the making, before the 113th Congress adjourns and Republicans take over the majority in January. If the administration objects, Mr. Wyden said, the Senate “should be willing to act unilaterally” to release the report.
Former President George W. Bush defended Sunday the tactics used by the CIA to elicit information from terrorism suspects in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
“We’re fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the CIA serving on our behalf,” Mr. Bush told CNN. “These are patriots. Whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contribution to our country, it is way off base. I knew the directors, I knew the deputy directors, I knew a lot of the operators. These are good people, really good people, and we’re lucky as a nation to have them.”
Senate Democrats are planning to release a redacted 600-page summary of the 6,000-page report, which is expected to be highly critical of the CIA’s coercive interrogation program during the Bush administration.
“Think of the cartoons in Denmark and how many people died as a result. Think of the burnings of the Korans and how many people died as a result,” Mr. Rogers said. “They will use this to incite violence, and here’s the scary part about this: Secretary Kerry has engaged in this because he believes this is dangerous to what they’re trying to accomplish overseas. That tells you this is more than just differences on what happened.”
Republicans argue that the agency’s use of the tactics was stopped years ago, during the Bush administration, and that the Department of Justice has already investigated the program.
Gen. Michael Hayden, who served as CIA director under Mr. Bush from 2006 to 2009, rebutted claims that agency officials lied about the program during his tenure while acknowledging that the program’s details were “very complex.”
“To say that we relentlessly over an expanded period of time lied to everyone about a program that wasn’t doing any good — that beggars the imagination,” Mr. Hayden said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
He said that waterboarding, perhaps the most controversial interrogation technique, was taken “off the table” after he took the lead at the agency.
“Actually, it was long gone before he [Mr. Obama] became president, and the last person waterboarded, of a total of three, was in March 2003,” Mr. Hayden said.
At the same time, Mr. Hayden said he did not eliminate the coercive interrogation program because it had “proven its worth,” contrary to the claims of Democrats, who say the tactics failed to produce results.
He said he worried about the impact of the report on U.S. relations with its allies and CIA morale, saying that the “workforce will feel as if it has been tried and convicted in absentia, since the Senate Democrats and their staff didn’t talk to anyone actively involved in the program.”
Mr. Wyden said that Americans “will be profoundly disturbed and angered when they read it. But it’s important to get the facts out even if they make people uncomfortable, because that’s the only way to prevent the mistakes of the past from being repeated.”
The investigation was approved by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee with no Republican votes.
“What good will come of this report?” said Mr. Rogers. “There’s been a Department of Justice investigation, it was stopped under the Bush administration, there has been congressional action to stop this activity, President Obama put an executive order saying he wouldn’t continue any of that activity, not that it was going on, it had since been stopped.”