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Kerry Raised Concerns Over Timing of Torture Report

A Department of State spokesperson denied that Kerry asked for a delay of the torture report, but said he left the timing of the release to Feinstein.
Image: The London Conference On Afghanistan Is Closed With An Address From The Prime Minister
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to members of the media during the London Conference on Afghanistan in central London on Dec. 4, in London, England. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

As the Senate Intelligence Committee prepares to release its report on CIA torture and rendition, questions arose Friday whether a phone call made by Secretary of State John Kerry to Chairman Dianne Feinstein included a request to delay its release.

"[Kerry] called his former colleague to discuss the broader implications of the timing of the report’s release because a lot is going on in the world," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement. "He wanted to make sure that foreign policy implications were being appropriately factored into timing."

Some of those issues "include our ongoing efforts against ISIL and the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world,” the statement said, referring to another name by which Islamist terror group ISIS is known.

Bloomberg View first reported the phone call between Kerry and Feinstein. That report cited among Kerry’s fears that, "[the report] could complicate relationships with foreign countries at a sensitive time and posed an unacceptable risk to U.S. personnel and facilities abroad fears of complicating relationships with foreign countries."

An administration official earlier Friday denied the Secretary made any request for a delay. Psaki said Kerry also "made clear that the timing is of course her choice," and reiterated the support of the Obama Administration to release it. Sen. Feinstein's office did not comment on the exchange.

If the release of the report is pushed back to the next Congress and the new GOP majority, its fate may be placed in the hands of Republicans who have expressed displeasure that the committee did the report in the first place.

"It is not surprising that members of the administration are raising an objection at the 11th hour, because there have been objections at every other hour," said Intelligence Committee Member Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden in a statement. "This report must see the light of day before Congress adjourns this year."

Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said in Friday’s briefing the State Department has taken "a number of steps," to protect overseas personnel at each point it was thought the report might be released.

"We have directed all of our posts overseas to review their security posture in light of, you know, if and when there is a release of this report, to ensure that our personnel, our facilities and our interests are prepared for the range of reactions that might occur," said Harf. "Certainly that's been an ongoing process."

NBC Senate Producer Frank Thorp and NBC White House Producer Kristin Donnelly contributed to this report.