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April 02, 2014

Angus King, Susan Collins back Dianne Feinstein CIA push

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s quest to unveil the history of the CIA’s detention and interrogation policies won’t be totally partisan after all.

The Senate Intelligence Chairwoman plans to hold a vote Thursday to support the declassification of key findings of a 6,300-page report on the Bush-era policies — and on Wednesday morning she learned that both of Maine’s senators will support her.

Sen. Angus King, an independent, and Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, said in a joint statement out Wednesday morning that they back Feinstein’s effort to make public hundreds of pages of the executive summary of the massive report on the Central Intelligence Agency. The support of the two key swing senators means both that Feinstein’s Thursday vote will be successful — and that she can call the vote bipartisan, even if other Republicans on the committee don’t agree with how the report was gathered.

Feinstein has accused the CIA of interfering in her investigation into the interrogation policies, while the California senator has faced criticism herself after her staffers removed an internal CIA review of detention policies and stored them on Capitol Hill. King and Collins said they have “some concerns” about how the report was assembled, but those worries are trumped by a document the two lawmakers say led them to believe the CIA engaged in the torture of detainees.

“This inhumane and brutal treatment never should have occurred. Further, the report raises serious concerns about the CIA’s management of this program,” King and Collins said in their statement. “Torture is wrong, and we must make sure that the misconduct and the grave errors made in the CIA’s detention and interrogation program never happen again.”

King and Collins were not on the committee when it finalized the massive report in 2012, though former Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe was on the panel and was the lone Republican to vote for finalization. King and Collins said the report has other limitations because it excluded the input of Republican committee staffers and did not include interviews with CIA personnel and other members of the administration.

“We do, however, believe in transparency and believe that the Executive Summary, and Additional and Dissenting Views, and the CIA’s rebuttal should be made public with appropriate redactions so the American public can reach their own conclusions about the conduct of this program,” they said.

After Thursday’s vote, the summary will head to the White House, where President Barack Obama will weigh whether it needs further redacting before public release. Feinstein said Monday she hopes Obama will act quickly.

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