President Barack Obama’s administration has refused to release about 9,400 documents connected to the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation at the heart of an ongoing dispute with the Central Intelligence Agency, (CIA) McClatchy Newspapers reported on Wednesday.
The White House has allegedly rejected or ignored written and verbal requests for committee members to review the materials, which relate to the agency’s “enhanced interrogation” program shut down near the beginning of Obama’s presidency. Committee staff members allegedly first learned about the documents in 2009, but it is not clear whether the CIA granted them access to them before the White House made them unavailable.
However, McClatchy reported that Obama has not made a formal statement indicating the documents were protected by executive privilege.
The report comes a day after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) publicly accused the agency of illegally searching Senate staff members’ computers. Feinstein has allegedly written several letters to Kathryn Ruemmler, the president’s chief legal advisor, asking her to mediate the dispute between the CIA and the committee, but has never gotten a response.
The committee and the CIA have sparred for months over the 6,300-page report, which cost $40 million to put together, and was reportedly heavily critical of the agency’s interrogation methods at several secret facilities around the world, saying they did not produce valuable intelligence despite relying on “enhanced” tactics like waterboarding.
Staff members reportedly printed several documents and took them from one facility in Virginia, years before CIA officials were aware.
Update, 7:57 p.m EST: Agence France-Presse reported that Obama has promised to declassify the Intelligence Committee’s report at the center of the dispute upon its completion.
“I would urge them to go ahead and complete the report, send it to us,” Obama was quoted as saying. “We will declassify those findings so that the American people can understand what happened in the past, and that can help guide us as we move forward.”
He also said CIA chief John Brennan had properly handled the accusations of agency spying on Senate computers by referring the matter to “appropriate agencies,” but did not give more details.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]