Burr: No intention to rewrite CIA torture report

Posted January 6, 2015 3:45 p.m. EST
Updated October 30, 2015 1:22 p.m. EDT

— Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, the incoming chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that he won't try to rewrite the report issued last month cataloging brutal interrogation tactics used by the CIA operatives on suspected terrorists although he strongly disputes portions of the report.

The so-called torture report accused the CIA of misleading Washington leaders about what it was doing with its "black site" captives and deceiving the nation about the effectiveness of its techniques.

The report was the first public accounting of tactics employed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and it described far harsher actions than had been widely known. Tactics included confinement to small boxes, weeks of sleep deprivation, simulated drowning, slapping and slamming and threats to kill, harm or sexually abuse families of the captives.

Burr called the report, which was released by Sen. Diane Feinstein, a California Democrat and former Intelligence Committee chairwoman, political in nature and said it never should have been released.

"The report was very much a one-sided production," he said in an interview with WRAL News. "It is, to some degree, a misrepresentation of what happened."

Although he contends Feinstein's investigation was far from complete, Burr said he has no plans to revisit the issue, noting that the CIA already is making changes in its interrogation practices.

"To have an end chapter of a book and go back and try to write the preface to it and other chapters is a mistake," he said. "I want to look forward and do oversight in real time and not oversight that goes 10 years back."

Burr, who accompanied freshman U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis to his swearing in on the floor of the Senate, said he looks forward to Republican leadership in the new Congress.

"It's comforting to know that any piece of legislation that comes out of the House will get the attention of the United States Senate," he said, predicting more bipartisan efforts in the coming two years than have been evident in recent years.

"The judgment of the American people will be on, can Republicans govern," he said. "This will be a defining two years for the '16 elections."

Burr said he plans to focus on regulatory reform and other measures designed to boost job creation and any changes to the Affordable Care Act that would get the backing of President Barack Obama.

"(We need) to make sure it works for the American people in a positive way, not a negative way," Burr said of the health care law.