The U.S. military has put thousands of troops on alert ahead of the expected release Tuesday of a Senate report detailing the CIA’s post-Sept. 11 detention and interrogation program, defense officials said.
U.S. officials fear disclosures about harsh interrogation techniques used at the CIA’s now-shuttered secret prisons could spark a violent backlash in Africa, the Middle East or in countries where anti-American sentiments often run strong, including Afghanistan and Pakistan. Army Gens. Lloyd Austin and David Rodriguez, the commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command, respectively, have ordered troops be placed on a higher alert status after the Pentagon called for combatant commanders across the world to review security plans they had in place, a defense official said. The news was reported Monday by CNN.
The troops on heightened states of alert are mostly Marines, a Pentagon official told Checkpoint. The units involved include a crisis-response unit that has Marines in Sigonella, Italy, and Morón, Spain, a second crisis-response unit with troops in Kuwait and Iraq, and 50-man teams of fleet anti-terrorism security team (FAST) Marines that are typically called upon to reinforce U.S. embassies.
About 4,000 Marines and sailors with the three-ship Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, out of San Diego, also are currently in the Middle East. The USS Makin Island, the main ship in the group, was in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday, Navy officials said on the ship’s Facebook page Monday. On board are Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, of Camp Pendleton, Calif. They also have the ability to reinforce embassies if required.
Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry called the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to discuss the potential fallout from the release of the report, and urged her to consider implications overseas in light of ongoing military operations by the United States and partner militaries against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria as well as the continued detention of Americans hostages.
The report’s release Tuesday now appears to be lock: White House press secretary John Earnest said Monday that while the timing of the report’s release is up to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the administration had been informed it would be released Tuesday.
“There are some indications that… the release of the report could lead to a greater risk that is posed to U.S. facilities and individuals all around the world,” Earnest said. “So, the administration has taken the prudent steps to ensure that the proper security precautions are in place at U.S. facilities around the globe.”