Maine Senators Denounce CIA Practices Detailed in 'Torture Report'
WASHINGTON - Maine's two U.S. senators are both criticizing CIA interrogation practices following the much-anticipated release of the so-called "Torture Report." But they are also critical of the report itself.
Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King both sit on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which, on Tuesday, released a de-classified 500-page summary of its report into the CIA's detention and interrogation program in the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Both senators voted for the report summary to be released back in April. Collins was one of only three Republicans to do so. In statements published after its release, King and Collins both expressed concern over the report's findings.
"It's not something our country can be proud of, or is really part of our values," says Sen. King.
King says although the word "torture" is not used, the report provides clear evidence that prisoners were tortured. It describes how the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" resulted in terror suspects being water-boarded, sleep-deprived and kept in inhumane conditions. One detainee died from hypothermia.
King says the agency's detention and interrogation program was also mismanaged, with inexperienced, junior officers being put in senior roles, and an undue reliance on private contractors.
While he paid tribute to the many intelligence officers who act courageously and within the law, King says he's disturbed by what the report says about how some within the CIA leadership actively impeded congressional oversight, and how agency officials misrepresented the program’s effectiveness.
Most importantly, says King, the report makes an extremely strong case that torture does not work.
"Some people say, 'Well, you're naive, we've got to do these things,' " King says. "They've seen the movies, and the TV show '24' and these kinds of things. But the fact is, based upon the study, and based upon the correspondence I've had with professional negotiators - including FBI, CIA, Army, Air Force - this kind of stuff doesn't work."
"The treatment of some of detainees was tantamount to torture," says Sen. Susan Collins.
Collins says there's no justification for the enhanced interrogation techniques described in the report. But Collins says that while she supports the report's release, she does not endorse all of its conclusions, or agree with the way the Intelligence Committee conducted its investigation.
"It relied solely on documents, rather than interviewing those who were involved," Collins says. "And, unfortunately, it was a partisan investigation, rather than one that involved the Republican staff." Sen. King also expresses reservations about how the report was put together.
Both lawmakers say they also have concerns regarding oversight of the intelligence community going forward. King says the committee needs to discuss whether additional steps are necessary to ensure that it's getting accurate information.
Senator Collins says one way to improve oversight might be to "broaden the circle" - giving all Intelligence Committee members in the House and Senate access to more highly-classified information, which is currently only shared with the committee chairs and ranking members "because we need more eyes on what is being done."