With his party back in control of Congress, the new GOP chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee wants to return to the CIA a damning internal review, described by some as a “smoking gun,” that exposes the brutality and inefficiency of the spy agency’s torture program.
“The Panetta Review was never intended for the committee to have,” Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina told Huffington Post. “At some point, we will probably send it back to where it came from.”
The so-called Panetta Review is named for former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA director Leon Panetta, who ordered the internal review in 2009 as an attempt by the agency to better understand millions of documents that the CIA was handing over to the Intelligence Committee as it began its investigation into the Bush-era detention program.
Former Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado disclosed the existence of the review during an open hearing in December 2013. According to lawmakers who have seen it, the review found that the CIA had exaggerated the value of intelligence gained during the brutal interrogations of some detainees.
As the New York Times reports: “One of the report’s findings, according to people who have seen the document, was that the C.I.A. repeatedly claimed that important intelligence to thwart terror plots and track down Qaeda operatives had come from the interrogation sessions of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed when, in fact, the intelligence had other origins.”
Last month, as he prepared to leave office, Udall revealed more details about the review in a speech on the U.S. Senate floor, highlighting inconsistencies between it and other public CIA statements.
“In my view, the Panetta Review is a smoking gun,” Udall said on December 10, 2014. “It raises fundamental questions about why a review the CIA conducted internally years ago and never provided to the committee is so different from the official [John] Brennan response and so different from the public statements of former CIA officials.”
“The Panetta Review found that the CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Congress, the president, and the public on the efficacy of its coercive techniques,” he continued. “The Panetta review further identifies cases in which the CIA used coercive techniques when it had no basis for determining whether a detainee had critical intelligence at all. In other words, CIA tortured detainees to confirm they didn’t have intelligence, not because they thought they did.”
It’s not only the Panetta Review that Burr is trying to recall.
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