POLITICS

Dianne Feinstein Tells UK Parliament 'Very Little' More She Can Reveal About Torture

10/01/2015 02:28 GMT | Updated 10/01/2015 02:59 GMT
Tom Williams via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 09: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, talks with reporters after sharing a report on the CIA and it's torture methods, December 9, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The United States senator who oversaw the publication of the graphic 'torture report' detailing the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program has indicated to the British parliament there would be little point in her travelling to London to give evidence before MPs.

Dianne Feinstein, who until earlier this month was the chair of the senate intelligence committee, had been asked to appear before the House of Commons home affairs committee by its chairman, Labour MP Keith Vaz.

Vaz and the committee of MPs wanted to quiz Feinstein on what, if anything, British ministers and officials had asked be redacted from her final report in order to discover whether UK intelligence agencies had in any way been complicit in the CIA's actions.

However in a letter to Vaz, sent on 8 January and seen by The Huffington Post, Feinstein said she would not be able to discuss anything that was not already public knowledge.

"If you are seeking information beyond what has been made public by our committee, there is very little I can tell you because the evidence is part of the full, unredacted 6,700-page committee report, which has not been declassified," she said.

In December, Feinstein's committee released a declassified summary of its full report. The summary alone revealed grisly details of the abuse suspected militants were subject to at the hands of American interrogators at black-sites around the world. The report also concluded the CIA had lied about the effectiveness of its torture programme in preventing further terrorist attacks.

Feinstein did not explicitly reject the call to come to London to give evidence, however the implication of her letter appears to be that there would be little point in her agreeing to answer questions from MPs as there is nothing further she is willing, or able, to say.

She told the UK committee: "I have had the pleasure of meeting with your colleagues on the intelligence and security committee of parliament almost annually. I look forward to continuing to work with your parliament in the future; however, I can only discuss non-classified matters with you regarding the information in our report.

"As you may know, it took us months of work, with the executive branch of the United States government to get as much information about the CIA detention and interrogation programme declassified and unredacted as possible."

Appearing before the home affairs committee in December, Theresa May confirmed British officials were given the chance to request redactions be made from the US senate report. The home secretary said this would have been done to protect UK national security, not to cover up any British involvement or knowledge of torture.

May insisted she had not personally asked for any mentions of British intelligence agencies to be removed from the US Senate report.

However she said she could not speak for what happened under the previous Labour government.

In the wake of the report, which triggered global headlines, the British government came under pressure to launch a fresh full independent public inquiry into the actions of MI5 and MI6 during the so-called War on Terror.

Feinstein, the veteran Democratic senator from California, served as chair of the senate intelligence committee from 2009 until 3 January this year. She is now vice chair of the committee, having lost her chairmanship after the Republican Party captured control of the Senate in last year's mid-term elections.

Shortly before she surrendered the chairmanship of the committee, Feinstein urged the US government changed the law to ensure it never again tortures detainees.

Feinstein's letter to Vaz, which is signed-off with a handwritten P.S reading "Every good wish for 2015", can be seen below:

feinsteinletter