In its last significant act, the Democrat leadership of the U.S. Senate plans to release a long-delayed report of the Intelligence Committee detailing the techniques used by the government to interrogate terror detainees in the years following the 9/11 attacks. At the same time, news has emerged that President Barack Obama has released another six terror detainees from the military prison at Guanánamo Bay. The men are being resettled in Uruguay as refugees.
These steps are the latest in an effort by the Obama administration and its allies in Congress to dismantle the interrogation and intelligence infrastructure that was hurriedly built by the Bush administration as the country reeled from attacks that killed thousands of Americans and sought to detect and destroy any future threats. Though some, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have pleaded with the Senate to delay the intelligence report, Obama backed the initial inquiry.
The chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, is said to be concerned that once Republicans take over the upper chamber in February with a new 54-46 majority, they will prevent the report’s release. Republicans do not agree with Democrats on the final report, and are said to be preparing their own version of the report. Intelligence officials have warned that the information in the report could provoke violence and attacks against the United States.
The report is said to accuse the CIA of lying to Congress, an allegation that former CIA director Michael Hayden rejected on Sunday. He told CBS News’ Face the Nation, “To say that we relentlessly over an expanded period of time lied to everyone about a program that wasn’t doing any good, that beggars the imagination. Obama who ran in 2008 on a promise to end the use of extraordinary interrogation techniques at the CIA, and to close Guantánamo within a year.
Congress–under both Democratic and Republican control–has resisted the closure of Guantánamo, particularly because the administration (and Senate allies such as Dick Durbin of Illinois) have suggested moving detainees to prison facilities on the U.S. mainland. The Obama administration’s hurried releases of terror detainees is but one example of how the president is using–some say abusing–his executive authority to circumvent the legislature’s will. Earlier this year, the administration angered legislators by releasing five senior Taliban leaders in an exchange without notifying Congress 30 days in advance, as required by federal law.
However, the Senate Intelligence Committee is acting on its own, even if its investigation had the backing of the administration (and likely still enjoys its sympathy). Republicans will be left to rebut the report’s claims–and to grapple with the national security implications in its aftermath.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak