Do you remember that time when President Barack Obama went out well ahead of the Senate Intelligence Committee and supposedly revealed the conclusion of its report on Bush era enhanced interrogation techniques? Sure you do. “We tortured some folks,” the president concluded. Despite the fact that the report was alleged to not go so far as to explicitly accuse the CIA of engaging in “torture” while interrogating terror suspects, the president’s characterization of that report was naturally what captured the public imagination.
That report was scheduled to be released several months ago, but the Obama administration has been pushing on the Senate to withhold its release for an indeterminate period of time. In fact, according to Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin, requests that outgoing Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) postpone the release of that report are coming from the highest sources.
“Secretary of State John Kerry personally phoned Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Friday morning to ask her to delay the imminent release of her committee’s report on CIA torture and rendition during the George W. Bush administration, according to administration and Congressional officials,” Rogin reported.
“Kerry told Feinstein he still supports releasing the report, just not right now,” the report read. Rogin added that the basis for this determination was that this report’s release “could complicate relationships with foreign countries at a sensitive time and posed an unacceptable risk to U.S. personnel and facilities abroad.”
“What he raised was timing of report release, because a lot is going on in the world — including parts of the world particularly implicated — and wanting to make sure foreign policy implications were being appropriately factored into timing,” an administration official told me. “He had a responsibility to do so because this isn’t just an intel issue – it’s a foreign policy issue.”
That’s funny. That’s precisely what the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Republican members warned in the summer when they didn’t want to see the premature release of this report (or, presumably, its findings prematurely characterized by the president).
“On several occasions, the White House and the State Department have told the Committee, both verbally and in writing, that a series of security steps will be needed to safeguard the lives of U.S. personnel overseas and the facilities in which they work,” the senators wrote.
It’s good to see that Kerry and the Senate’s incoming majority Republican members are on the same page. It is, however, a shame that the president so imprudently went out ahead of the committee responsible for investigating this matter.