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Ex-CIA officers barred from reviewing report hitting them with harsh interrogation tactics

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Senate Republican Conference,CIA,Guantanamo Bay,al Qaeda,Dianne Feinstein,Waterboarding

In a stunning reversal, the administration has told some 10 former intelligence officers that they can't review a 6,000-page Senate report on controversial post-9/11 interrogation tactics before it, or a shorter executive summary, is publicly released.

The decision, said a key source, is being delivered today by top CIA officials to those who just a week ago were told they could look at the report. It is expected to slam the Bush-era interrogation and detention practices that Democrats charge were inhumane and Republicans call life-saving to millions of Americans.

The former officials said the decision is unfair because they won’t know what is in it until it becomes public — and reporters show up at their door asking questions. The source said that “some” former CIA officials are named in the report “hundreds of times.”

Worse: None of the 10 were interviewed for the report by the committee, and as a result, their version of events, such as on waterboarding, were never heard. “They never heard their side,” said the source.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report took five years and an estimated $40-$50 million to produce. The Senate recently voted approval for the administration to declassify it and it is before the White House for final review. The CIA and White House are redacting parts and plan a late August release of the executive summary, some 480 pages long.

Those few intelligence officers who have seen it call the report “sloppy” and inaccurate in passages, a review Republicans on the committee expected to echo when they release their analysis of the report.

Just a week ago, the CIA called those named in the report and said they could review it. But a “disconnect” between Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats, such as Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and the White House apparently occurred. As a result, the CIA was ordered to rescind the invitations. Sources said it was not a CIA decision. Only former directors and deputy directors still have access to it.

Once public, the report is expected to widen the rift between Senate Democrats and the CIA, which recently accused Feinstein’s team of obtaining an off-limits document from the agency.

CIA Director John Brennan, in a Wall Street Journal interview, recently said of the soon-to-be-released report, “When I speak about the report, I will probably annoy and alienate some people on both sides of this issue.” He added, “I will accept on behalf of the agency responsibility for failures, for problems and actions I believe should not have taken place. At the same time, I am going to take issue with some other elements of the report that I believe are inaccurate or misleading.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.