White House Tells Feinstein CIA Torture Report Will Be 'Preserved' But Not Declassified

from the because-of-course-not dept

Over the last few weeks, we’ve noted that Senator Dianne Feinstein has pushed for the CIA Torture Report that she originally commissioned be declassified (beyond the 500 page, heavily redacted, executive summary that was declassified). And then we wrote about two former Senators asking for President Obama to make sure that he preserve the report as a federal record. This is important. The full report, approaching 7,000 pages and costing $40 million to prepare, apparently details all sorts of wrongdoing by the CIA in torturing people in the Middle East. It’s a comprehensive look into not just the horrific program by the CIA, but its failure to produce anything useful and the details of how the CIA lied about it. And here’s the problem: Feinstein’s colleague on the Senate Intelligence Committee, the current chair, Senator Richard Burr, wants the report destroyed.

Burr is claiming that the report is a Congressional Record and not a federal record, and thus has asked for all copies to be returned, where he can make sure they are destroyed and never to be read by anyone. This dispute has resulted in people in the Executive Branch being told not to read the report and not to enter it as a federal record, thus keeping it away from being subject to FOIA requests, and while everyone figures out what to do about Burr’s request.

In response to Feinstein’s more comprehensive request for declassification, top White House lawyer Neil Eggleston has written a letter saying two things: first that the document will be preserved under the Presidential Records Act, even if the copies at various agencies are returned to the Senate. This is good. It means that even if Burr gets the document back, he can’t destroy every single copy, and also that it’s likely that someday there will be a release of a declassified version.

I write to notify you that the full Study will be preserved under the Presidential Records Act (PRA). The determination that the Study will be preserved under the PRA has no bearing on copies of the Study currently stored at various agencies.

Then there’s the bad news: that day won’t be any day soon. Eggleston also informs Feinstein that there is no effort underway to declassify the report, meaning that it’s simply not going to happen under this President at all. He does note that under the PRA, the information should be classified for twelve years:

Consistent with the authority afforded to him by the PRA, the President has informed the Archivist that access to classified material, among other categories of information, should be restricted for the full twelve years allowed under the Act. At this time, we are not pursuing declassification of the full Study.

This is a ridiculously weak cop-out. The study deserves to be declassified — especially as the incoming President elect has said that he plans to reintroduce elements of the torture program and even push for it to go further than it did in the past. Having the public recognize the problems of the program — not to mention other government officials, seems like it would be fairly important.

Of course, given that Trump and his team have suddenly picked a fight with the CIA — including accusing the CIA of lying, perhaps he’ll actually be more interested in exposing the CIA’s lies detailed in the report. In this age of topsy-turvy news where everything has been flipped upside down, stranger things have happened…

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Comments on “White House Tells Feinstein CIA Torture Report Will Be 'Preserved' But Not Declassified”

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20 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

What could go wrong? Let me count the ways...

the President has informed the Archivist that access to classified material, among other categories of information, should be restricted for the full twelve years allowed under the Act

So they’ve got at least twelve years to ‘lose’ the report, or suffer a catastrophic but strangely specific corruption of the database that corrupts it, or any number of ‘disasters’ to befall it that will destroy it without officially doing so.

I bet there’s any number of non-badge toting criminals that can only dream of the kind of defense shown here. Violate the laws and commit war crimes? No worries, we’ll just bury the report covering your crimes for at least a decade, giving you plenty of time to cover your tracks and retire, safe and sound.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: What could go wrong? Let me count the ways...

Entry date I would assume, so assuming last minute entry early 2017, you’re looking at 2029 at the earliest, and at that point you can be sure the arguments will be out in force regarding how the report is just so old it’s of no interest anymore, and anyway there’s no point in risking the backlash over releasing potentially incriminating documents about stuff that happened over two decades ago…

Personanongrata says:

A Government of Criminals for Criminals by Criminals!

White House Tells Feinstein CIA Torture Report Will Be ‘Preserved’ But Not Declassified

‘Preserved’? Declassified?

They need to read the report.

Paragraph below was excerpted from a letter sent 5Nov15 authored by senators Dianne Fienstein and Patrick Leahy:

We are gravely disappointed that, according to Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik’s letter dated August 5, 2015,
the Department of Justice is citing a Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA) case, ACLU v. CZ4,’ as an excuse to refuse to allow Executive Branch officials to review the full and final Study.

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2510385/report-letter.pdf

This is a complete disgrace.

Every member of all three branches of US government should be forced to read the full/unredacted senate report on torture.

The US government enforces chicken-shit non-crimes like tax evasion (for the great unwashed at least) or some inane bureaucratic administrative rule with gestapo like zeal but when it lies our sons and daughters into elective wars or tortures human beings for any reason it digs a hole and hides it’s collective head in the sand like an ostrich while pretending nothing is amiss.

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