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article imageCIA to take lead in censoring report that criticizes the CIA

By Ken Hanly     Apr 15, 2014 in Politics
Washington - Obama has given the CIA the task of editing a torture report that is very critical of the CIA. This was a bit too much for even Sen. Dianne Feinstein who has often supported the agency.
Feinstein chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee which voted last week to publicly release part of the 6,600 page review. The executive branch was to black out sections that might compromise national security. The White House however has given the CIA the lead in the redacting process. That this is a clear conflict of interest since the report is highly critical of that organization's treatment of terror suspects seems not to matter.
Feinstein wrote a letter to Obama insisting that the White House should be leading the declassification process not the CIA. She said: "I request that you declassify these documents, and that you do so quickly and with minimal redactions, I respectfully request that the White House take the lead in the declassification process."
The conclusion of the report was that the CIA tortured suspects but gained little valuable information as a result. The CIA disagrees. There has been a bitter fight between the committee and the CIA about the production of the report. Feinstein's committee voted by a 11 to 3 margin only to release the executive summary of the report and even that will be censored. In her letter Feinstein maintained: "This is the most comprehensive accounting of the CIA's detention and interrogation program, and I believe it should be viewed within the U.S. government as the authoritative report on the CIA's actions," The Attorney General Eric Holder sided with Feinstein saying that as much of the report as possible should be declassified and released to the public.
Spokesperson for the National Security Council Caitlin Hayden said that Obama desired to bring the report to the public so that Americans could understand what happened and ensure that it did not happen again. Of course this is far from the truth. The administration wants to hide as much as it can from the public and has set the CIA the task of obliterating anything they may think is too damaging to them. Hayden reaffirmed that the CIA would conduct the declassification review in consultation with other agencies noting: "The president has been clear that he wants this process completed as expeditiously as possible, consistent with national security, and that's what we will do," The phrase "consistent with national security" should be translated as "consistent with the views of the CIA as to what the American public should know". This process is designed to keep not the country but the CIA secure.
Former CIA director Michael Hayden even launched a personal attack against Feinstein saying the investigation was motivated by her "emotional feeling" rather than objectivity. This is from the person who was CIA director for Bush from 2006 to 2009. Feinstein has good reason to feel emotional about the issue.
In January of this year she and top Republican on the committee were called to a meeting with CIA chief Brennan: She said he informed them that agency personnel, without notifying the committee or seeking its approval, had conducted a "search" of computers that committee investigators were using to review documents related to the CIA program. Not surprisingly Feinstein, who is usually a staunch defender of the CIA, was furious. She claimed that the search may have violated the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and an executive order that prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance. The CIA did not take this kindly and in return filed a "crimes report" to the Justice Department complaining about the actions of committee staff. The crime of the staff was apparently to have accessed an internal CIA review of its interrogation tactics, and secret prisons plus its practice of rendition. The committee claims it found the information on the computer system the CIA had set up for them.
The British are also trying to ensure that the report does not reveal anything embarrassing about what they have done or about their cooperation with the US. The Brits do not want even the executive summary published. No doubt the redaction process will ensure that nothing of significance will be revealed.
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