State Department Official Freaks Out That Declassifying CIA Torture Report Might Make The World Angry
from the it's-not-the-declassification... dept
While the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify its $40 million, 6,300 page report detailing the CIA’s torture regime — including the facts that it went beyond what was authorized, produced no useful intelligence and then the CIA lied about it all — three members of the Committee voted against it. Senators James Risch, Dan Coats (though, who knows if he had any idea what he was voting on) and Marco Rubio all voted against declassifying, with Risch and Rubio putting out a statement claiming that the State Department didn’t want the report declassified.
The Senate Intelligence Committee today voted to send a one-sided, partisan report to the CIA and White House for declassification 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. Therefore, we could not support declassification of this product at this time.
This raised some eyebrows, since the Obama administration has consistently said it supported declassification, even as the CIA was fighting it. Still, it’s rare that the State Department would actively contradict the White House. However, the Daily Beast now has more details on the State Department’s desire to block the declassification:
A senior Senate aide told The Daily Beast that the Rubio-Risch statement referred to a June 2013 classified letter to senators signed by Philip Goldberg, who at the time served as the State Department’s top intelligence official. The warning was in reference to the fact that the report contains information about cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies and the existence of still-undisclosed CIA “black site” prisons in foreign countries where abuses may have occurred.
CIA facilities implicated in the report have allegedly been located in Thailand, Poland, Lithuania, and Romania, sparking public debate and resentment against the U.S. government in those countries. But officials and senate aides said the report contains information on several more locations.
Diplomats representing those countries, aware of their vulnerability to exposure, have been quietly meeting with administration officials and lawmakers urging them to protect the secrecy of those intelligence relationships. Many foreign governments are still angry about the disclosures of NSA spying by leaker Edward Snowden.
To be fair, the article notes that the letter from Goldberg was not cleared nor reviewed by State Department leadership. Thus, it may be seen less as “the State Department” making these comments, and more as the dude who has to deal with foreign spy agencies for the State Department. But, even so, the letter is ridiculous.
There is a semi-legitimate point that the eventual disclosure of what countries helped the CIA torture people will certainly create some troubling diplomatic situations for those countries. But that’s not the fault of the disclosure process. It’s because (1) the CIA tortured people and (2) those other countries went along with it. Don’t like that that will be disclosed? Then maybe they shouldn’t have done it in the first place.
The CIA’s torture program was a dark moment in American history and we don’t get past it by burying it — and the story of those who helped — under the rug. It needs to be out in the open. Even Vice President Joe Biden has said exactly that:
“I think the only way you excise the demons is you acknowledge, you acknowledge exactly what happened straightforward,” Biden said. “The single best thing that ever happened to Germany were the war crimes tribunals, because it forced Germany to come to its milk about what in fact has happened.”
To argue that the embarrassment of admitting that we partnered up with other countries in conducting illegal torture means we shouldn’t reveal the details at all goes against everything that we’re supposed to stand for, in being willing and able to admit our mistakes. It’s shameful that anyone at the State Department — with or without approval from leadership — would send such a letter, giving cowardly Senators extra cover for not approving the declassification of the report.