Senator Feinstein Asks President Obama To Declassify Senate's CIA Torture Report

from the last-chance dept

Could President Obama actually declassify and release the full 6,800 page report on the massive failures of the CIA's torture program from a decade ago? While it seems unlikely, Senator Dianne Feinstein is urging the President to release the document, fearing that the massive report may disappear into the memory hole soon.

Some background: While Feinstein has been historically awful on basically anything having to do with reining in the US intelligence community, the one area that really seemed to get her attention and raise concerns was the CIA's torture regime. She assigned Senate Intelligence Committee staffers to work on a massive and detailed report on the CIA's torture program after it came out that a key official involved in the program had deliberately deleted videotape evidence about the program. The research and writing of the report went on for years and cost millions of dollars, and then resulted in another big fight over releasing a heavily redacted version of just the executive summary of the report (not to mention that the CIA also broke into the staffers' computers after it realized it had accidentally given the staffers a really damning document). The fight over releasing the paper was really, really ridiculous.

There were fights over what ridiculous things to redact, and then the White House put on a full court press against releasing the document, insisting that publicly releasing even a heavily redacted executive summary would inspire terrorist attacks. Even after an agreement was reached on the redactions, John Kerry still tried to block the release, again warning of potential attacks in response.

Eventually the heavily redacted executive summary was released, revealing what many had suspected: the CIA's torture program was a complete waste, providing nothing in terms of valuable intelligence, and also involved the CIA lying to Congress. Since then, though, there have been ongoing battles over the report. Also revealed: what a bunch of bullshit the claims were that the release of the report would inspire new attacks. It's been two years and there's no evidence the report inspired any hatred beyond what was already present.

While Feinstein made sure copies of the full report were delivered to various parts of the executive branch, insisting that the report should be read so that we don't repeat the mistakes of the past, most of them claim they never read it and also that there was nothing to learn from it. Then, after Senator Richard Burr took over the Senate Intelligence Committee he began to demand that the various copies of the report all be returned so they could be completely destroyed, erasing all of that evidence and reporting on the CIA's torture program. The CIA claims it "accidentally" deleted one of its own copies.

The ACLU tried to FOIA the full document but was rejected... and the courts refused to force the government to release the document.

There's every indication that a President Trump would have zero interest in releasing such a report, and probably would support the destruction of the remaining copies. And, because of that, it appears that Senator Feinstein is calling on the President to declassify the whole thing.
I think people need to see the full facts of the report. I believe they stand on their own. And I think it's very important, particularly since there is discussion or talk or allegations about - well, we're going to resume waterboarding, and, yes, we can torture people.
As the report at NPR notes, during the campaign, Trump eagerly endorsed bringing back the torture program, specifically calling out waterboarding and suggesting going even further than that.

Once again, here's an opportunity for President Obama to actually do something that would make a powerful statement before handing over the White House. Not only would it help provide tremendous transparency into a shameful episode in our very recent history -- a shameful episode that is at great risk of being repeated -- it would also prevent the report from being totally destroyed. As the NPR piece notes, Senator Burr is still fighting to get back the document to destroy it. That means there's a very good chance that if President Obama doesn't get the full torture report declassified, it will disappear forever. Of course, given the White House's (ridiculous) attempts to block the release of the exec summary, combined with Obama's terrible track record in letting the intelligence community get away with all sorts of stuff, I wouldn't hold my breath.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 5:57am

    Legacy

    Obama won't, ever, release or declassify the thing, as I imagine he wants to pretend that it never happened so it doesn't add another stain to his already tainted legacy(because admitting that torture happened and he did nothing about it is so much worse than admitting it happened and endorsing it /s).

    Feinstein on the other hand... If she has access to the report she could potentially release it herself, classification be damned. It would destroy her career to be sure, but if she really feels it's that important it would make a powerful statement on her part, to the point that I might actually garner some respect for her, limited as it may be, for standing up for what's right at least once in her life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 6:47am

      Re: Legacy

      A politician like Feinstein falling on the sword on behalf of her countrymen?

      ha ha ha haaaaaa!!!

      No one would ever vote in a patriot!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 1:40pm

        Re: Re: Legacy

        Oh I'm quite aware that she's probably even less likely than him to do so, my point was that if she actually thought it was important for the public to know she could do something about it herself, rather than just send a useless letter and act like that's the best she can do.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 10:14am

      Re: Legacy

      His legacy in this Canadian's eyes is that he a warmonger

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wyrm (profile), 4 Dec 2016 @ 8:26pm

      Re: Legacy

      It's ask the more ironic given that Feinstein was one of those who called Snowden a traitor, arguing that he should have used "official channels" to release the truth.

      Tell me now Feinstein, how are "official channels" working for you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MadAsASnake (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 6:47am

    Can't see a good reason why it couldn't just appear over at Wikileaks. Attach the Panetta review for good measure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 7:06am

    Why not release it?

    What's the big issue with keeping this report secret?

    Approximately half of all Americans support the use of torture.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-torture-exclusive-idUSKCN0WW0Y3

    Our president-elect has no problem with it.

    Trump, Feb. 17: Torture works. OK, folks? You know, I have these guys—”Torture doesn’t work!”—believe me, it works. And waterboarding is your minor form. Some people say it’s not actually torture. Let’s assume it is. But they asked me the question: What do you think of waterboarding? Absolutely fine. But we should go much stronger than waterboarding.

    If Americans don't care about publicly advocating for torture, either via their own opinions, or their elected leaders, what is the point of keeping this report under wraps?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Barry Soetoro, 2 Dec 2016 @ 7:30am

    Senator Feinstein Asks President Obama To Declassify Senate's CIA Torture Report

    Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha!!!!!
    Yeah, right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Barry Soetoro, 2 Dec 2016 @ 7:33am

    Senator Feinstein Asks President Obama To Declassify Senate's CIA Torture Report

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!
    Yeah, right after I pardon Snowden.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bshock, 2 Dec 2016 @ 7:51am

    I'm ashamed to live in California

    Maybe Traitor Feinstein should've considered that the next president might be an insane fascist before trying to bury this CIA report in the first place?

    Oh, wait -- she was too busy helping her husband pillage the Bay Area for personal profit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 10:13am

    Sounds like she is trying to save her skin by showing the public she is on their side after doing everything in her power to remove their basic rights for the last several years.

    I get the feeling the public won't fall for it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 2 Dec 2016 @ 10:40am

    Oh, the guy who won the Nobel Prize (Peace!!!!) would surely want torture programs to end, no? (read with acidic sarcasm)

    No really, what a joke was that prize.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2016 @ 12:49pm

    (?) Couldn't she do it herself...?

    Wasn't there a Colorado Senator (Oh yea, Mark Udall) on his way out that people were pushing to read this entire document into the congressional record since he was a lame duck and wouldn't suffer as bad politically?

    Couldn't Sen. Feinstein do the same thing? Maybe she ultimately would since she cares about it strongly, but is just hoping Obama covers her so she doesn't have to release 'classified' info unilaterally--and get lambasted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2016 @ 12:36am

    I hope her name is included in the report, as having her remain in government is cruel and unusual punishment. Thank goodness Hairy Reed is flying the coop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    gb, 3 Dec 2016 @ 7:21am

    Open your skeleton closet, Feinstein

    Personally, most Americans don't CARE about torturing 3rd world barbarians, if it keeps civilized people safe. Go ahead, open them up. If you think it's going to bring people to your side, you're wrong. IMO, terrorists should not be caught alive anyway. Kill them on sight. Just like rabid animals.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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