Senators Seek Legal Review of CIA Methods
Friday, June 1, 2007
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has demanded a legal review of the CIA's detention and interrogation program for terrorism suspects as part of its version of the fiscal 2008 intelligence authorization bill.
In its report on the measure yesterday, the panel acknowledged that the CIA's harsh interrogation methods have led to the disclosure of the identifies of terrorists and have disrupted plots, but it questioned whether such methods are "the best means to obtain a full and reliable intelligence debriefing of a detainee."
The panel's chairman, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), said that "significant legal issues about the CIA detention and interrogation program remain unresolved," along with questions about the agency's decision to operate under rules different from those governing military and law enforcement officers.
As it has in previous years, the panel called for the president to make public the costs of the national programs whose budgets make up almost three-quarters of the roughly $48 billion proposed for intelligence collection and analysis next year. The other funds are for military intelligence activities. The Bush administration has strongly opposed such a disclosure.
Another Senate provision, which also appears in the House-passed intelligence bill, would modify the practice of telling only the chairmen and ranking members of the intelligence committees about the most sensitive operations, such as the warrentless domestic wiretapping involving terrorism suspects that began almost immediately after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The committee's version would require that all panel members be notified of such briefings and be told about the "main features" of such intelligence activities, including covert actions.
In other provisions, the committee:
· Joined the House in requiring a study of the impact of global climate change on national security. While House Republicans opposed this provision, Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) supported it.
· Increased the maximum penalty for intentionally disclosing the name of an undercover intelligence officer or agent from 10 to 15 years -- a change provoked in part by the leak of the name of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame.
· Required the president to provide all President's Daily Briefs that deal with Iraq, from the last four years of the Clinton administration through March 19, 2003, when the U.S.-led coalition began its invasion of that country. The briefings comprise the highly secret material provided each day to the president, and this requirement was described by the panel's Republican vice chairman, Sen. Christopher S. Bond (Mo.), as "the most problematic provision in the bill."
· Called for presidential nomination and Senate approval of the deputy CIA director as well as the directors of the National Security Agency, which collects electronic intelligence; the National Reconnaissance Office, which designs, builds and manages intelligence-gathering satellites; and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which collects and analyzes imagery. The White House has said it opposes a similar provision in the House bill.
· Found that the number of personnel in the intelligence community has grown by 20 percent since the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and recommended that additional growth be halted pending further study.