(Adds confirming statement from Burr and comment from Warner)
WASHINGTON, June 2 U.S. President Donald Trump's
administration has begun returning to Congress copies of a
voluminous 2014 report describing the CIA's harsh detention and
interrogation programs, U.S. officials said on Friday.
The Trump administration's move means it could be more
difficult for the full, 6,700-page report to be made public,
because documents held by Congress are exempt from laws
requiring government records to eventually be made public.
The White House made the move in response to requests by
Sen. Richard Burr, the Senate Intelligence Committee's current
Republican chairman, officials said.
In a statement emailed to Reuters, Burr said: "I have
directed my staff to retrieve copies of the Congressional study
that remain with the Executive Branch agencies and, as the
Committee does with all classified and compartmented
information, will enact the necessary measures to protect the
sensitive sources and methods contained within the report."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat who chaired the
committee when the report was produced, had asked that it be
distributed to multiple executive branch agencies, a move
designed to make it eventually releasable to the public under
the Freedom of Information Act law.
Feinstein said in a statement that she was "concerned and
disappointed" that Burr requested that the document be returned,
calling it a departure from the committee's normal bipartisan
"No senator, chairman or not, has the authority to erase
history. I believe that is the intent of the chairman in this
case," she said.
Sen Mark Warner, who succeeded Feinstein as the committee's
top Democrat, said in a Twitter post he was "disappointed" with
Burr's decision, and that the report "must be preserved so we
can learn from past mistakes & ensure that abuses are never
A declassified executive summary of the report was made
public in December 2014. It concluded that the CIA's
interrogation programs, using techniques such as waterboarding
that most observers consider torture, were more brutal and less
effective than the CIA had told policymakers.
The report said that not a single terrorist attack was
foiled as a result of the use of harsh interrogation techniques.
The American Civil Liberties Union had filed litigation to
have the full report released. But U.S. courts ruled that
because the document was created by Congress, it was exempt from
the Freedom of Information Act.
At least one copy of the report, however, will not be
returned to the committee. That’s because a copy has been
preserved in former President Barack Obama’s presidential
archive, according to a Dec. 9, 2016 letter written to Feinstein
by Obama’s top White House lawyer at the time, W. Neil
The CIA declined to comment. Burr's move was first reported
by the New York Times.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Jonathan Landay; Writing by
Warren Strobel; Editing by Bernadette Baum)