CIA says mistakenly 'shredded' U.S. Senate torture report then did not
(Adds background, Wyden saying he will not support him, citing
report, in paragraphs 5, 13-15)
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON, Oct 17 (Reuters) - The Central Intelligence
Agency thought for months that it had mistakenly shredded a
massive U.S. Senate report on its use of waterboarding and other
"enhanced interrogation techniques" before suddenly discovering
that its copy had not been lost after all, an agency official
said on Tuesday.
"It's embarrassing and I have apologized," Christopher
Sharpley, the acting CIA Inspector General, told the Senate
Intelligence Committee during his confirmation hearing as
President Donald Trump's nominee for the position.
Championed by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein when she
chaired the Senate panel, the "torture report," as it is known,
is the result of a six-year investigation into so-called
enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA after the
Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, during the administration of Republican
President George W. Bush.
The report has been the subject of disputes between the
agency and committee Democrats, as well as Democrats and
Republicans, over issues including whether it should be
declassified and whether investigators broke the law as they
Feinstein wants the 6,700-page document declassified. But
Republican Senator Richard Burr, her successor as committee
chairman, has resisted its release and asked for the return of
copies distributed to government agencies under Democratic
President Barack Obama.
Sharpley said the CIA received the report in December 2014
on a computer disk, which was then uploaded into a classified
system. Shortly thereafter, he said, the agency was told to
delete it because of ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
An email was sent saying the disk should not be destroyed,
but Sharpley said he was told months later it could not be found
and that an employee said it had been shredded.
But he said the disk was discovered later, after the FOIA
litigation concluded that the report was a "congressional"
document not subject to FOIA requests.
Sharpley said around that time, Burr asked him to return the
disk and he did so.
The committee's Democrats appeared frustrated by Sharpley's
"The point of distributing it to the departments was in the
hope that they would read it - not look at it as some poison
document - and learn from it," Feinstein said, noting that to
her knowledge, not a single fact in the report has been refuted.
Sharpley said he had not read the report, only an
unclassified executive summary.
Democratic Senator Ron Wyden announced after the hearing
that he would not support Sharpley's nomination because he had
handed the report over to Burr, although there was no legal
requirement to do so.
Sharpley also would not commit to protecting any future
reports, such as one related to the committee's probe of
potential links between Trump's campaign and Russian efforts to
interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.
"I think your highest duty here is to follow the law. The
notion that the chairman asked for it and that's all that
governed your judgment isn't acceptable to me," Wyden said
during the hearing.
Obama ended the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques"
via executive order in January 2009. Led by Feinstein and
Republican Senator John McCain, Congress has since passed
legislation outlawing their use.
Burr said he planned a vote on Sharpley's nomination next
week and looked forward to supporting him.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, editing by G Crosse)
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