WASHINGTON: Republicans on the US Senate Intelligence Committee will soon release a minority report asserting that the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques helped bring down Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, the panel’s top Republican said yesterday.
“Information gleaned from these interrogations was in fact used to interrupt and disrupt terrorist plots, including some information that took down bin Laden,” Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee reports will come five years after it authorized a probe into the use of possible torture by the Central Intelligence Agency after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
The Democrats’ majority report is expected to allege that the CIA’s use of techniques, such as waterboarding, did not help yield valuable intelligence and was not necessary.
It is unclear when the report will be released because committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein has said she may challenge some of the redactions by the Obama administration.
President Barack Obama, who banned the practices after taking office in 2009, said on Friday that the CIA had in fact “tortured some folks” during President George W Bush’s tenure. “We did some things that were contrary to our values,” Obama said.
Republicans on the committee have long disagreed with Democrats about the use of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, and the Republicans largely boycotted the committee’s probe into their use. “I thought it was a mistake then. I still think it is a mistake,” Chambliss said on CBS.
The Senate’s investigation has been plagued with difficulties. The CIA conceded last week that it had improperly monitored computers used by committee investigators looking into the torture allegations.
CIA Director John Brennan called Feinstein and Chambliss to apologise when he first learned of the breach. “Once he got all the facts, he came back and he did apologize,” Chambliss said. “He was wrong. Senator Feinstein was right.”
Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, who is a survivor of torture himself, said on the Fox News programme “Sunday Morning Futures” he was in some ways more concerned about the CIA spying on Senate staffers than the torture issue, and he called for an independent investigation into the matter.
US Representative Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the CIA’s actions were a serious breach of trust but warned against overreactions.
“I don’t think this is some conspiracy notion that they wanted to spy on either of our committees. That would of course be intolerable. I think it would be a crime,” Rogers said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
But these were CIA computers at a CIA facility, he said. “That’s a little bit different than spying on Congress, in my mind.”