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Senators to vote on probe of CIA interrogation program

By Mark Hosenball

(Reuters) - The U.S. Senate intelligence committee plans to vote next week on whether to approve findings of a nearly 6,000-page summary of its long-running investigation into contentious counter-terrorism practices, including "enhanced interrogation techniques," used by the CIA during the George W. Bush administration.

But the report remains classified and it is unclear whether committee Republicans, who have largely boycotted the investigation, will endorse it. This leaves it unclear whether a version of the document will ever be made public.

Part of the committee's investigation was to evaluate whether enhanced interrogation methods, which included stress techniques that human rights activists and many U.S. politicians condemned as torture, were effective in producing useful intelligence.

Reuters reported earlier this year that the three-year-long investigation was expected to find little evidence that the interrogations, which included the use on a few high-level suspects of a simulated drowning technique known as "waterboarding," produced counter-terrorism breakthroughs.

Committee officials examined millions of pages of records charting the treatment of detainees handled by a CIA program that also included a network of secret prisons and the "rendition" - essentially extra-legal extradition - of suspects to third countries where they often were subjected to harsh treatment by local authorities.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who heads the committees, confirmed in an email that while the panel would vote on the report next week, it would not be made public then.

"The Intelligence Committee's 3-year review of the CIA's detention and enhanced interrogation technique program (2002-2009) will not be released next week. The committee is, however, scheduled to vote to approve the report," she said.

Feinstein added: "The report is nearly 6,000 pages. It is comprehensive, it is strictly factual, and it is the most definitive review of this CIA program to be conducted. Any decision on declassification and release of any portion of the report will be decided by committee members at a later time."

Sources familiar with the committee's draft said it analyzes whether the enhanced interrogation practices used by the agency were more or less effective than non-coercive interrogation tactics in extracting valuable and accurate information from suspects.

Other sources familiar with the investigation said it was unclear how the committee's Republican minority would react.

Republicans stopped cooperating with the investigation around the time President Barack Obama's Justice Department gave a Connecticut-based federal prosecutor, John Durham, a special assignment to investigate whether any U.S. laws were broken by CIA personnel who worked on the program.

That inquiry was closed earlier this year without criminal charges being filed.

Laura Pitter, a counter-terrorism advisor at the campaign group Human Rights Watch, welcomed that the Senate investigation apparently has concluded.

"We hope it will ultimately shed some light on what has been one of the darkest chapters in U.S. history and finally set the record straight on how ineffective the use of torture actually was in obtaining useful and accurate intelligence," she said.

(Editing by Warren Strobel and Vicki Allen)

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