WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry has asked Sen. Dianne Feinstein to "consider" the timing of the expected release of a long-awaited report on the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques.
Kerry called Feinstein to discuss the broader implications of the timing of publicly releasing a declassified summary of her committee's report "because a lot is going on in the world, and he wanted to make sure that foreign policy implications were being appropriately factored into timing," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday.
She said Kerry during the call reiterated the support of the administration for the release of the report on detention and interrogation, but "he also made clear that the timing is of course her choice."
These factors to consider "include our ongoing efforts against ISIL and the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world," Psaki said.
Tom Mentzer, a spokesman for the California Democrat, said he had no immediate comment.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is poised to release early next week the first public accounting of the CIA's use of torture on al-Qaida detainees held in secret facilities in Europe and Asia in the years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
It will come in the form of a 480-page executive summary of the 6,200-page report by Democrats on the committee, who spent six years reviewing millions of secret CIA documents.
According to many U.S. officials who have read it, the document includes disturbing new details about the CIA's use of such techniques as sleep deprivation, confinement in small spaces, humiliation and the simulated drowning process known as waterboarding. President Barack Obama has acknowledged, "We tortured some folks."
But the report goes much further than to simply condemn the brutal methods, which Obama banned in 2009 and were repudiated by the three most recent CIA directors. It alleges that the harsh interrogations failed to produce unique and life-saving intelligence. And it asserts that the CIA systematically lied about the covert program to officials at the White House, the Justice Department and congressional oversight committees.
That sweeping indictment is hotly disputed both by the former officials who defend the techniques as necessary pressure short of torture, and by current CIA officials who believe that the use of the harsh methods were a mistake. Both groups insist that some of the detainees subject to what were euphemistically dubbed "enhanced interrogation techniques" did provide crucial intelligence, including clues that helped the CIA find al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden hiring in Pakistan.
In an op-ed posted Friday on the Washington Post website, Jose Rodriguez, who ran the interrogation program as a top CIA operations officer, repeated longstanding assertions that Democratic lawmakers who are now criticizing it were fully briefed on it at the time.
"In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, lawmakers urged us to do everything possible to prevent another attack on our soil," he wrote. "Members of Congress and the administration were nearly unanimous in their desire that the CIA do all that it could to debilitate and destroy al-Qaeda. The CIA got the necessary approvals to do so and kept Congress briefed throughout. But as our successes grew, some lawmakers' recollections shrank in regard to the support they once offered."
However, Feinstein, in remarks on the Senate floor in March, said the CIA in briefings to Congress had fundamentally mischaracterized the nature of the interrogations, which she called "chilling," ''brutal" and "un-American."
"The interrogations and the conditions of confinement at the CIA detention sites were far different and far more harsh than the way the CIA had described them to us," Feinstein said.
The expected release of the report has raised concerns about potential backlash to Americans and U.S. interests around the world.
Spokeswoman Marie Harf said the State Department has "directed all of our posts overseas to review their security posture in light of ... a release of this report, to ensure that our personnel, our facilities and our interests are prepared for the range of reactions that might occur."
A senior defense official said the Pentagon will be warning military combatant commanders overseas that the torture report will be coming out and that they should assess their security situation. The official said that commanders are being told to take any steps they believe are appropriate to assure the safety of their personnel in case the report triggers violence.
The main focus of the effort is in the Middle East and Europe, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the impending memo publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Associated Press writers Donna Cassata and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.