A Democratic-led panel's explosive
The scattershot response from congressional Republicans may reflect a subtle shift by some in the GOP who initially had argued that even harsh interrogation techniques — which Democrats say amounted to torture — were justified in the name of national security.
But the graphic nature of some of the report's revelations made a full-throated defense of the CIA's tactics politically untenable, leaving individual lawmakers in some cases to focus more on the motivation of its authors than on the substance of their findings.
"It doesn't tell us much that we didn't probably already know anyway, but significantly endangers Americans around the world," he told reporters. "This particular release, in my judgment, serves no purpose whatsoever."
In a rebuttal to California Sen.
"The study essentially refuses to admit that CIA detainees, especially CIA detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, provided intelligence information which helped the United States government and its allies to neutralize numerous terrorist threats," Sen.
North Carolina Sen.
"If it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base," he said. "I knew a lot of the operators. These are good people, really good people, and we're lucky as a nation to have them."
Former Vice President
Feinstein and fellow Democrats did receive high-profile support from one Republican. After she formally released the report, Sen.
McCain, a prisoner of war tortured during the Vietnam conflict, made only passing reference to his own history, saying he knew from "personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence."
"Our enemies act without conscience. We must not," he said. The report "makes clear that acting without conscience isn't necessary — it isn't even helpful — in winning this strange and long war we're fighting. We should be grateful to have that truth affirmed."
The Obama administration, which had privately lobbied Feinstein to stall the report's release, hurried to embrace it publicly while emphasizing measures it was taking to ensure the safety of American personnel at home and abroad. The president said he would try to make sure that the country never resorts to such methods in the future.
"Some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values," he said. "That is why I unequivocally banned torture when I took office, because one of our most effective tools in fighting terrorism and keeping Americans safe is staying true to our ideals at home and abroad."
The findings of the report may ultimately be part of a foreign policy debate in the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Sen.
Asked whether he could defend the kinds of abuses detailed in the report, Rubio demurred.
"I continue to believe that the U.S. should aggressively pursue information that saves the lives of Americans," he told reporters. "The United States remains, among all the countries on Earth, the most responsible, the most humane. But we have people that are actively trying to kill Americans. And I'm not going to criticize anyone who did their job in trying to acquire information that would protect American lives and prevent a terrorist attacks."
"It's important to say we're not going to do that [torture]. But the gruesomeness of the details may well inflame people," he said. "Whether or not you have to go into all the gory details, whether that's good for the country, maybe not."