POLITICS
12/08/2014 05:45 pm ET Updated Dec 09, 2014

With CIA Torture Report Set For Controversial Release, Washington Braces For Fallout

WASHINGTON -- The White House confirmed Monday that a summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's post-9/11 torture program would be released Tuesday, despite reports that some in the Obama administration had pressured the panel to delay the document's controversial release.

"We have heard from the committee that they do intend to release the report tomorrow," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a briefing. "The timing of the release is something that has always been up to the committee. This is a decision that they have made."

Earnest said the administration has been preparing for the report's release for months, noting that there are "some indications" that its unveiling will put U.S. facilities around the world at greater risk for some kind of attack. Many have raised concerns about blowback, especially in locations overseas where the CIA used enhanced interrogation tactics against foreign nationals.

But, Earnest added, the administration has taken steps to ensure that proper security precautions are in place at those facilities.

Tuesday’s release will mark the end, for now, of the bitterly fought battle over the document waged between the White House, its chief intelligence agency and the Senate panel. Even though the committee voted in April to declassify the report's summary, the public revelation was held up by protracted disputes over information that the White House and CIA wanted to keep secret, but that the Senate committee wanted to publicize. After months of tense negotiations, the two sides came to an agreement last week.

Monday’s announcement came amidst a flurry of preparations in Washington as government agencies said they had issued warnings to their personnel overseas. The Defense Department said that all combatant commands had been asked on Friday to take protective measures.

U.S. Central Command, which includes countries in the Middle East that might be of particular concern, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the measures it has put in place.

The CIA is taking its own precautions: A senior intelligence official told The Daily Beast that the agency is helping current and former staff to assess the risk of being identified in the report summary. It may be possible to use cross-referencing to discern the identities of agency employees who were involved in the program, even though the report refers to them using pseudonyms. A lawmaker quoted in The Daily Beast's report said that the CIA may transfer some personnel to new locations following the release.

The State Department has also voiced concerns about overseas diplomatic posts. Reports surfaced Friday afternoon that Secretary of State John Kerry had called Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the intelligence panel, and pressed her to delay the document’s release.

The White House acknowledged that President Barack Obama was aware that Kerry was making the call Friday, but neither the White House nor the State Department would say whether Kerry made the call on his own or was following orders from the president.

"I will allow Secretary Kerry to explain exactly why he made the phone call," Earnest said, when asked about the call during his briefing.

“He was simply raising the fact that these are issues that are ongoing,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday. “The secretary called his former colleague to discuss the implications of the timing.”

The spokeswoman also said her department had issued warnings to its personnel overseas, and that security precautions were being taken.

“Every embassy is reviewing their own security postures and needs, we’re in close touch with them,” Psaki said. “It’s our job and our role to be as prepared as possible.”

"The whole point of that is to make sure it never happens again. ... This report should have been out a long time ago," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), an Intelligence Committee member who strongly favors the report's release. "The full report has 38,000 footnotes. This is meticulously documented, and I think now now the point is to put this in front of the American people so that they can get the facts."

Akbar Shahid Ahmed contributed reporting.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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