WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House in the next few days is expected to declassify the long-awaited summary of a U.S. Senate committee study of a CIA program that used “enhanced interrogations” and secret prisons to extract information from captured militants, several officials familiar with the matter said.
Over the last two weeks, former directors and deputy directors of the CIA have been invited by the Obama administration to review a still-secret version of the 600-page Senate Intelligence Committee summary at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Officials familiar with its contents say it concludes that the CIA’s use of harsh “enhanced interrogation” methods such as waterboarding, or simulated drowning, on a handful of prisoners, and other stress tactics on a larger set of captured militants, did not produce any significant counter-terrorism breakthroughs in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
Human rights activists and CIA critics, including some U.S. politicians, have described the CIA’s techniques as torture.
The officials said the report also alleges that CIA officials misstated or exaggerated the results of the program by claiming such methods had helped to foil terrorist plots.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has said the report points to major problems with the CIA’s management of the interrogation program and its interaction with the White House, Congress and other parts of government.
Earlier this year Feinstein’s committee and the CIA exchanged accusations they improperly accessed each other’s data.
Former officials allowed to see the summary were also given access to a paper the CIA prepared in response to the Senate committee investigation, as well as a similar paper prepared by the Intelligence Committee’s Republican minority, according to officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.
The officials said both the CIA response and the Republican minority response are highly critical of the Senate committee investigation, which was conducted by the Democratic majority of the committee with little input from Republicans.
In April, the committee formally asked the Obama administration and the CIA to declassify the report summary as well as the CIA and Republican responses. The material for which declassification was requested is only a fraction of what Intelligence Committee staffers wrote.
The committee’s full report, on what was known as the CIA’s Rendition/Detention/Interrogation (RDI) program, runs to 6,000 pages and is based on committee investigators’ review of 6 million or more pages of documents that recorded the program’s activities in minute detail.
Several officials said it was likely the full report and documentation will never be made public.
Some Democratic senators recently suggested that if the administration censored the report summary too heavily, they would seek Senate sanction to release its uncensored contents unilaterally, but other officials said this was unlikely.
Once a declassified version of the report is delivered by the administration to Capitol Hill, the timing of its release will be left to the Intelligence Committee.
Most of the militants subjected to enhanced interrogation were captured by U.S. or allied forces on the battlefield or were wanted by the United States for their role in major attacks including those of Sept. 11.
Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Jim Loney and Steve Orlofsky