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Kerry Warns Feinstein of CIA Torture Report’s Possible Impact on Hostages

In happier times. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
In happier times. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Secretary of State John Kerry warned Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein Friday about the possible impact of her committee’s imminent CIA torture report on American hostages and the war on ISIS.  

“He called his former colleague to discuss the broader implications of the timing of the report’s release because a lot is going on in the world, and he wanted to make sure that foreign policy implications were being appropriately factored into timing. These include our ongoing efforts against ISIL and the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world,” State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “That anyone would mischaracterize this call or question reasonable, proper, private discussions raises questions about what they’re trying to accomplish.”  

Feinstein, a California Democrat, said Thursday that she had reached agreement with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on remaining redaction issues and that the report for public release was being printed .
“The President has been clear that he wants the executive summary of the Committee’s report to be declassified as expeditiously as possible, and we welcomed the news from the Committee that they plan to do so next week,” NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said in a statement. “The precise timing is up to Senator Feinstein and the Committee.”  

“Secretary Kerry did notify the White House that he would call Senator Feinstein to share information that he thought was pertinent to the timing of the release of the report, based on his role as Secretary of State and his longstanding relationship with Senator Feinstein,” Meehan said.  

Bloomberg View was the first to report that such a call was made, with a report  headlined “Kerry Puts Brakes on CIA Torture Report.”  

The initial reports led to responses from senators long critical of the administration’s handling of the negotiations over the redactions ahead of public release of the executive summary of the report, which Feinstein had said Thursday would take place next week.  

“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,” Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said in a statement. “This report must see the light of day before Congress adjourns this year. And if the Executive Branch isn’t willing to cooperate the Senate should be willing to act unilaterally to ensure that happens.”  

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., sounded similar. Udall, who lost his seat in this year’s elections, has previously declined to rule out reading the executive summary into the Congressional Record.  

“Senator Udall remains committed to getting the truth out about the CIA’s misguided, brutal and ineffective detention and interrogation program. His belief has not wavered. The Senate Intelligence Committee and the administration have arrived at a mutually agreed upon set of redactions that protect national security while also ensuring that the truth comes out about this dark chapter in American history,” Udall spokesman Mike Saccone said. “Our nation has proven time and again that we can and should responsibly acknowledge our mistakes — even when the United States is engaged in military activities abroad, as we were in Iraq when the U.S. Army publicly released its investigation into Abu Ghraib — and that doing so makes us stronger and more secure.”  

Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.

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