The CIA for years misled Congress about its interrogation programs, according to a still-classified report from the Senate Intelligence Committee. The agency covered up the extent of the brutality of its programs, exaggerated the importance of certain prisoners and wrongly suggested that its interrogation methods were responsible for getting key pieces of information, the Washington Post reports.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is now working on declassifying its 6,300-page report on the CIA's now-defunct detention interrogation program. The agency has no official comment on the report, since it has yet to be officially released, but CIA officials have privately said it tainted by errors and misguided conclusions, according to the Post.
"Ultimately, this is a question about the credibility of the CIA and what they said about the effectiveness of this program," CBS News National Security Analyst Juan Zarate said.
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Once the Senate report, or parts of it, is declassified, the public can finish the debate that's festered over the interrogation methods the CIA employed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Zarate said there are three parts to this debate:
"One goes to the overall morality and policy wisdom of the program itself," he said. "That, at the end of the day, is sort of the most important question."
In some ways, that question has been answered, since former President George W. Bush ended portions of the program and President Obama completely ended it.
Zarate continued, "Then you have the question of was it effective, even if we shouldn't have done it ... did it work? That has not been resolved, in some ways."
According to the Post, the Senate report says that the enhanced interrogation methods produced little if any significant intelligence. Furthermore, personnel within the CIA were reportedly split over the program's value -- some CIA employees were so troubled by tactics employed at the agency's secret prison in Thailand that they left.
Finally, Zarate said, the report could answer the question, "Was the CIA leveling with folks, not just now but back when the program was instituted, while it was underway?"
Officials familiar with the report told the Post that it delves into discrepancies between statements from senior CIA officials in Washington and the details from written communications of lower-level employees directly involved in the program.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to vote later this week to send the executive summary of the report to Mr. Obama for declassification. However, it could take months for anything to become public.
Amid that process, the Intelligence Committee and the CIA have accused each other of potentially criminal activity.
Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has charged that the CIA had spied on the committee's staff while the staff was working on the report. CIA Director John Brennan said was "beyond the scope of reason" to allege that the CIA "hacked" the Senate Intelligence Committee. The CIA, meanwhile, filed a crimes report with the Justice Department against the Intelligence Committee, suggesting committee staffers weren't authorized to access all the documents they obtained.