Mark Udall's Open To Releasing CIA Torture Report Himself If Agreement Isn't Reached Over Redactions
from the putting-the-pressure-on dept
As we were worried might happen, Senator Mark Udall lost his re-election campaign in Colorado, meaning that one of the few Senators who vocally pushed back against the surveillance state is about to leave the Senate. However, Trevor Timm pointed out that, now that there was effectively “nothing to lose,” Udall could go out with a bang and release the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report. The release of some of that report (a redacted version of the 400+ page “executive summary” — the full report is well over 6,000 pages) has been in limbo for months since the Senate Intelligence Committee agreed to declassify it months ago. The CIA and the White House have been dragging out the process hoping to redact some of the most relevant info — perhaps hoping that a new, Republican-controlled Senate would just bury the report.
The arguments for not leaking the report — or just putting it into the Congressional record — is not a legal one. Members of Congress are allowed to put whatever they want in the Congressional record without fear of legal repercussions. However, it could lead to other problems, including being kicked off of the Intelligence Committee, which would have led to less ability to oversee what was going on in the future. But since he’s leaving anyway… As Timm notes:
But Udall?s loss doesn?t have to be all bad. The lame-duck transparency advocate now has a rare opportunity to truly show his principles in the final two months of his Senate career and finally expose, in great detail, the secret government wrongdoing he?s been criticizing for years. On his way out the door, Udall can use congressional immunity provided to him by the Constitution?s Speech and Debate clause to read the Senate?s still-classified 6,000-page CIA torture report into the Congressional record ? on the floor, on TV, for the world to see.
There?s ample precedent for this. In 1971, former Senator Mike Gravel famously read the top-secret classified Pentagon Papers for three hours before almost collapsing and then entering thousands of pages more into the record after he couldn?t speak for any longer from exhaustion.
In fact, Gravel is now urging Udall to do exactly that, in an interview he gave to Dan Froomkin.
?If Udall wanted to do this, he could do the same thing.? Gravel said. ?Hell, I?d fly into Washington and help him pass it out.?
If it?s more convenient, Gravel said, he?ll be in Udall?s home state of Colorado in a couple weeks. ?If he wants to, we can get together over Thanksgiving weekend, and talk this thing out so he feels comfortable.?
The two biggest reasons not to do it, Gravel said, are no longer relevant. ?The biggest fear you have is peer pressure. What are my members of the Senate going to think of me? But I?ve got to say, if you lose office, like he has, he?s got no more peer pressure.?
Udall himself had been rather quiet about all of this over the past few weeks, but has now told the Denver Post that all options are on the table, but he’s still hopeful that a deal may be reached.
?I?m going to keep all options on the table to ensure the truth comes out,?
In an odd way, his loss may actually put extra pressure on the CIA to agree to fix the retraction problem, since they now know that Udall can just go around them entirely. Suddenly, the “fallback” position isn’t such a good situation. In the past, the CIA could stall under the likelihood that no one could really do much about it. But that calculus has changed, meaning that the CIA no longer has the upper hand here. Still, it would be something if Udall decides that the only way to get this info out is to put it out himself, in part, because he could release a lot more than just the executive summary. Who knows if he’d go that far, but it’s good to hear that he’s at least open to the option.