- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2014

Thousands of U.S. Marines were on a heightened state of alert around the world Monday as hype mounted over the long-anticipated release of a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA treatment of terrorism suspects during the initial years after 9/11.

With a key House Republican warning that the report, produced by Democrats on the Committee, will trigger “violence and deaths” overseas, Obama administration officials said “necessary precautions” were being taken at U.S. facilities worldwide in preparation for the document’s release.

A 480-page redacted version is expected to be made public Tuesday following years of heated back-and-forth between the White House, the CIA and the Intelligence Committee over the past year.

The White House said Monday that President Obama supports making the document public. But memories are still fresh in Washington of 2012 demonstrations that saw Muslim rioters attempt to sack several U.S. embassies in the Middle East.

While that violence followed the circulation on YouTube of an anti-Islam video that had been made in the U.S., administration officials said Monday that they are wary the situation could be repeated.

“There are some indications that the release of the report could lead to a greater risk that is posed to U.S. facilities and individuals all around the world,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “The administration has taken the prudent steps to ensure that the proper security precautions are in place at U.S. facilities around the globe.”

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On Friday, Secretary of State John F. Kerry phoned Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee and whose staff is releasing the report, to discuss the timing and the potential ramifications. But administration officials say Mr. Kerry did not ask for a delay.

“He didn’t discuss a specific proposed time or anything along those lines,” State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Monday.

The report is said to be highly critical of CIA interrogation practices under former President George W. Bush. Mr. Obama in 2009 banned the use of such “enhanced interrogation techniques” as the simulated drowning practice known as waterboarding, which CIA agents used against terror suspects held at “black sites” in Europe and Asia.

The report is expected to conclude such practices provided no key evidence in the Bush-era war on terrorism, such as information leading to the al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. It is also expected to claim CIA officials took active steps to hide their use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques from the Bush White House.

The New York Times reported Monday that some former officials from the Bush administration privately sought to seize on such claims as a way to distance themselves from the program — but the former president and his closest advisers have instead stood by the CIA program.

Mr. Bush himself told CNN on Sunday that hadn’t seen the Intelligence Committee’s report, but he defends the CIA. “We’re fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the CIA serving on our behalf,” the former president said. “These are patriots, and whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base.”

Gen. Michael Hayden, who served as CIA director under Mr. Bush from 2006 to 2009, also rebutted claims that the agency lied about the program. “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,” he told CBS on Sunday.

Recent days have brought heated debate on Capitol Hill over the report’s impending release. Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, said it is important to the democratic process and wouldn’t happen in countries like North Korea, China or Russia.

“I think it exposes what the world already knows, and that is that the United States engaged in torture,” she told CBS on Monday. “My feeling about this is that this is a gut check moment for our democracy.”

But Republicans stand against the release. Rep. Mike Rogers, the outgoing chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has warned the report will be used as a propaganda tool by terrorist groups to incide anti-American unrest.

“I think this is a terrible idea,” the Michigan Republican told CNN on Sunday, adding that “our own intelligence community has assessed that this will cause violence and deaths.”

Reports Monday said U.S. Marines, who traditionally guard U.S. embassies around the world, were on heightened alert. CNN reported the alert follows an order late last week from the Pentagon that all force protection standards be reviewed by combatant commanders around the globe.

Ben Wolfgang and David Sherfinski contributed to this article.

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