Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sharply criticized the CIA on Tuesday after the release of a declassified report that revealed the brutal interrogation techniques the agency employed against detainees following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Torture is wrong and fundamentally contrary to American values,” Collins said in a written statement. She said she supported releasing the report “to allow the American people to reach their own conclusions and to make sure lessons are learned from the mistakes made so that they never happen again.”

King was similarly outraged.

“Such brutality is unacceptable, and the misconduct on the part of some of the individuals involved in the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, which is documented in the study, is inexplicable,” he said in prepared remarks. “Based upon this review, it appears to me that the enhanced interrogation techniques were not effective in producing the type of unique and reliable information claimed by the agency’s leadership, and should never again be employed by our government.”

The 500-plus-page report, which summarizes a 6,700-page document that will remain secret, contains detailed information about the history of the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program and outlines 20 individual case studies of specific detainees.

Among the key findings of the report, which was released by Senate Democrats:

n At least 26 detainees were held because of bad intelligence or mistaken identity, including one who was intellectually challenged.

n Many detainees were held in isolation and subjected to extreme sleep deprivation, rectal feeding and rehydration, and waterboarding.

n CIA officials failed to share information about the interrogations with oversight committees and, in some cases, destroyed evidence.

Collins said the report details “inhumane and brutal treatment” that never should have happened, but also “raises serious concerns about the CIA’s management of this program.” Specifically, she said the CIA failed to evaluate the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation techniques and rarely held officers accountable for misconduct related to the program.

Although the CIA should bear responsibility, “the problems of the detention program were frequently whole-of-government failures, not just the CIA’s alone,” she said.

King agreed that the report shouldn’t reflect poorly on the CIA as a whole, but said it clearly shows fundamental flaws in the agency’s detention and interrogation program, which was used extensively after Sept. 11. Some of the interrogation techniques were halted by former President George W. Bush in 2006. The rest were banned by President Obama shortly after his inauguration in 2009.

King was dismayed that the CIA failed to keep accurate records about detainees and employed people with little experience in detention and interrogation.

“Of the many examples of impeding congressional oversight documented in the study, none is more striking than the decision by CIA leaders to destroy videotapes of CIA interrogations out of a concern that Congress might discover evidence of misconduct and brutality,” he said.

Both Maine senators are new to the intelligence committee and were not involved in 2009 when the panel decided to commission a study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.

In April, King and Collins voted to declassify portions of the 6,700-page document, which were finally released for the first time Tuesday. But they also stressed that the report likely would have limitations “because it did not involve direct interviews of CIA officials, contract personnel or other executive branch personnel.”

They also objected to the fact that the report was created without the participation of Republican committee staff members.

The Senate report does not contain any recommendations, but Collins offered some suggestions, including outlawing waterboarding and better sharing of information with the congressional oversight committee.

U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, both Democrats, also were critical of the report’s details.

“We have a responsibility to protect the lives of American citizens and our interests both at home and abroad, and that can call for difficult decisions – but that should never include torturing a person,” Michaud said.

Added Pingree: “This is a brutal report that represents a dark side of the CIA and describes actions that do not reflect American values. Not only were these techniques wrong, the report shows they were not the most effective way to gather intelligence.”

U.S. Rep.-elect Bruce Poliquin, a Republican who will succeed Michaud, did not return a call seeking comment.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

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