In an interview with CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes Tuesday evening, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-California, talked about the factors in her decision to release her committee's report on the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques.
Secretary of State John Kerry had called Feinstein last Friday to ask her to delay the release out of concern for the safety of Americans abroad who might be endangered by the reaction to the report's contents. She ultimately chose to press ahead.
"I gave it due consideration, really heartfelt consideration, I very much respect John Kerry," Feinstein said. Then, however, she said she began "to see a lot of mistaken statements made, hyperbole," and people calling the report "an attack on President Bush."
"It was not,"
Timing, for Feinstein was a big factor. "I realize the Senate changes leadership in January, and so the likelihood of the report coming out next year was slim and none, so we had a limited opportunity after five and a half years of work to get this out," she said. She conceded that the safety situation abroad was "difficult," but, she continued, "It's going to remain difficult."
And Feinstein told Cordes that she believed that not even those in the nation's highest political offices were fully aware of how the CIA was handling its interrogations. "I know President Bush somewhat. I don't believe he would've authorized what we saw in this report."
The former president, for his part, told CNN's Candy Crowley in an interview that aired Sunday that he hadn't seen the report, but "whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base. And I knew the directors, I knew the deputy directors, I knew a lot of operators - these are good people. Really good people. And we're lucky as a nation to have them."
There are many critics of Feinstein who point out that what is covered in the torture report is in the past, that President Obama ended the practices portrayed within it early in his administration. Feinstein's great hope in publicizing the report now, at the last possible moment that she can, is that the harsh light it shines on the CIA's practices in the early years after the 9/11 attacks will help ensure that those practices remain in the past. Cordes asked her whether it was fair to revisit what was done, given that the techniques used are different now.
"Read the report," Feinstein said, "and you tell me if you think this is how you want the country to behave."