Obama’s chief of staff personally negotiates redacting of Senate’s CIA torture report

Obama’s chief of staff personally negotiates redacting of Senate’s CIA torture report
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is deeply involved in negotiating how much to redact from a classified US Senate probe into the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program, according to a new report.

McDonough is playing a top role in hashing out what will be available to the public upon release of an abbreviated executive summary for the 6,000-page report, Huffington Post reported citing sources close to the negotiations.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s $40 million investigation into the Central Intelligence Agency's Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program - which was active from September 11, 2001 to 2006 - has found that the spy agency purposely deceived the US Justice Department to attain legal justification for the use of torture techniques, among other findings that resulted in the report, completed from March 2009 to December 2012. Of that investigative report, the public will only see a 500-page, partially-redacted executive summary that is in the process of declassification.

McDonough’s involvement may indicate how monumental the tug-of-war between the Senate committee and the CIA has become during the investigation. The committee has alleged that the CIA has spied on its staff, while the intelligence agency has accused the committee of leaking classified information amid its “inquisition” of the CIA, as one intelligence source described the probe.

The White House did confirm that McDonough was involved in the negotiations, but questions over the nature of his participation were left unanswered.

“We’re not going to get into the details of our discussions, but White House officials, including Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, are in regular touch with [Intelligence Committee] leadership on a variety of matters, including to discuss the committee’s review of the Bush Administration’s rendition, detention and interrogation program, in an effort to help ensure the executive summary is completed and declassified consistent with national security interests,” Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, told Huffington Post.

Sen. Feinstein.(Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

Sources also said that in addition to redaction edits, McDonough has urged Senate members to avoid attacking CIA Director John Brennan after the report’s executive summary is released.

"The Chief of Staff's agenda was about how we could work together to meet the President’s desire to ensure the executive summary is completed and declassified consistent with national security interests, so that we can shed light on this program and make sure it is never repeated. These were not discussions about Director Brennan," Meehan said.

While specific details of the Senate committee’s report are still unknown, McClatchy news service reported in April that it outlines 20 main conclusions about the post-9/11 torture program which, according to the investigation, intentionally evaded White House, congressional, and intra-agency oversight.

“The report does not put responsibility with the [George W. Bush] White House,” a source familiar with the report told McClatchy last week, echoing previous concerns that Bush administration officials will likely avoid any accountability for the the shadowy capture-and-detain regime at Guantanamo Bay and secret "black site" prisons, often fueled by suspect bounties, or for crafting the legal framework that allowed the CIA to interrogate detainees with waterboarding and other methods deemed to be torturous by international standards.

The Senate report “does not look at the Bush administration’s lawyers to see if they were trying to literally do an end run around justice and the law,” another McClatchy source said last week.

Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan .(Reuters / Yuri Gripas)

As RT previously reported, former CIA director Leon Panetta has alleged in his new memoir that a former Obama White House chief of staff, current Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, was livid with Panetta upon learning of the latter's cooperation with the Senate probe.

“I was summoned down to a meeting in the Situation Room, where I was told I would have to ‘explain’ this deal to Rahm… It did not take long to get ugly,” Panetta wrote in 'Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leaders in War and Peace.'

“’The president wants to know who the f**k authorized this release to the committees,’” Rahm said, slamming his hand down on the table. ‘I have a president with his hair on fire, and I want to know what the f**k you did to f**k this up so bad!’”