It's one of the central dramas playing out on Capitol Hill: When will Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats release the executive summary of their report on CIA torture? The chairwoman of the committee has been mobbed daily by reporters about the impending release of the document, which she has promised will be done by the end of this Congress, early January at the latest.
Would it come before or after Thanksgiving? This month, or next? This week, or the one after?
Asked Monday evening if the report was days or weeks away, Feinstein said: "days." The release of the report this week or next could bite into the CIA’s holiday cheer: the agency’s holiday party is being held this Friday.
The line of questioning is a regular ritual conducted between Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the press corps. But this evening, Feinstein wanted to signal progress, following tick-tock media reports that outlined the difficulty the committee was having negotiating report redactions with the CIA and the White House.
Her staff had "lots of meetings" over Thanksgiving break, Feinstein said. Then she cajoled an aide, standing next to her, to provide particulars.
"We're making progress every day," the aide said. "We're way down."
She urged him to provide more specificity, ultimately getting him to say that the committee and the Obama administration had started with more than 400 issues of disagreement over the report on the CIA's enhanced interrogation practices. By Thanksgiving, there were 80 issues left to negotiate.
On Monday, there were only two issues "that should be resolved tonight," the aide said.
"Now you got us specifics," Feinstein said approvingly.
The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s majority report has been delayed by months by disagreements between the committee and the Obama administration over redactions. The committee voted overwhelmingly in the spring to release the document, which consists of hundreds of pages, detailing the interrogation, rendition, and detention methods used by the CIA.
But there’s a new incentive to get the report out soon. Republicans take over the Senate in 2015. Many of them have not been impressed with the Democrats’ findings.
“The Senate Intelligence Committee today voted to send a one-sided, partisan report to the CIA and White House for declassification,” Senate Republicans Marco Rubio and James Risch wrote in April, “despite warnings from the State Department and our allies indicating that declassification of this report could endanger the lives of American diplomats and citizens overseas and jeopardize U.S. relations with other countries.”