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Negotiations Over CIA Torture Report Nearing End

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein expects her panel’s long-delayed report on the CIA’s use of torture to be released before Republicans take over the chamber, signaling to reporters there’s one sticking point left.  

“Well, no one wants to move that more quickly than I do,” said the California Democrat. “We are down to essentially one item in the redaction. It happens to be a very sensitive and important item.” She didn’t elaborate.  

Feinstein has been negotiating with the White House for months over redactions to the report’s executive summary, with Democrats on the panel routinely ridiculing efforts by the CIA to redact large portions of the report. Asked about the potential that next year’s GOP-led Senate could begin the process all over again if the report’s executive summary is not made public before then, Feinstein said “it is going to get done, so don’t worry about it.”  

Feinstein said she had discussed the report with both President Barack Obama and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in recent days and expected to hear back quickly.  

The White House did not provide a readout of any conversation between Obama and Feinstein, but in response to an earlier query about a Denver Post interview with Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, reiterated the president’s position that the executive summary should “be declassified as expeditiously as possible.”  

Udall, who lost his Senate re-election bid in Colorado to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, would not rule out the possibility of reading material from the report into the Congressional Record before leaving the chamber, a move that would be legally shielded by the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause.  

“I mean, I’m going to keep all options on the table,” Udall said in the interview last week.  

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who has frequently been in Udall’s camp on civil liberties issues among members of the Intelligence Committee, on Tuesday ridiculed some of the CIA’s requests.  

“It is so important that that be done, because it should have come out yesterday,” Wyden said. “I don’t take a backseat to anybody in terms of protecting our undercover agents [but] some of the demands that have been made by the CIA with respect to redactions have been ludicrous.”  

“There has never been a report that blacked out all of the pseudonyms, so the agency’s requests in recent days are unprecedented, going all the way back to the Church Committee,” Wyden said, a reference to the landmark investigatory committee of the 1970’s chaired by Democratic Sen. Frank Church of Idaho.  

Wyden has previously floated the possibility of using a procedure that could allow for the summary of the report to be released through action of the Intelligence Committee without consent of the Obama administration.  

Katy O’Donnell contributed to this report.

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