By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 6, 2009
The Senate intelligence committee reached an agreement yesterday on the framework of a wide-ranging review of the CIA's past treatment of terrorism detainees, even as members acknowledged that the bulk of the panel's work will be conducted in secret.
The committee's Democratic and Republican leaders settled on a blueprint for a year-long probe that will examine the agency's detention and interrogation of about 100 suspected al-Qaeda operatives held in secret overseas prisons between 2002 and 2006. Panel members last week confirmed their intention to conduct such an inquiry.
The scope of the bipartisan review will include the CIA's use of harsh interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, or simulated drowning, and whether such methods actually produced significant intelligence, as the Bush administration claimed, the panel said in a prepared statement.
But how much of their findings will be made public remained unclear. Since nearly all aspects of the CIA's program were secret, key witnesses and documents will be examined in closed session, congressional officials confirmed. It is not yet known whether the panel's review will produce an unclassified report.
The Senate inquiry will run parallel to a separate White House review of Bush administration detention and interrogation practices. Neither review is expected to result in recommendations for criminal charges.
CIA Director Leon E. Panetta said yesterday that he will cooperate with the committee, calling the inquiry an "exercise in legitimate oversight."
"What I will not support is an inquiry designed to punish those who acted in accord with guidance from the Department of Justice," Panetta said in a statement addressed to CIA employees.