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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  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 13 Dec 2016 @ 8:46am

    sounds like the report on what they did is so awful it could destroy foreign relations forever if let out. Shame how those people that knowingly broke the laws to torture others are still employed and probably still being rewarded for it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2016 @ 8:49am

    The answer is rather simple.

    Really, anything other than telleng Senator Burr to go fuck himself and that the report belongs to the public. Is unnecessarily complicating things.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2016 @ 9:08am

    snore.

    truth and decency are an inconvenience when you have a worthless government anymore and worthless people running it.

    this is what you have left.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 Dec 2016 @ 9:11am

    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.

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

    • icon
      Tom Mink (profile), 13 Dec 2016 @ 10:51am

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

      Does the declassification clock start ticking from the record creation date in 2012 or from the entry date presumably sometime this week?

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 13 Dec 2016 @ 1:07pm

        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...

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

    • icon
      Sean (profile), 18 Jan 2017 @ 8:42pm

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

      They?

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

  • identicon
    AnonCow, 13 Dec 2016 @ 9:19am

    The human rights abuses the will most likely happen under the Trump Administration will make that report look like a description of a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese.

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

    • identicon
      Annonymouse, 13 Dec 2016 @ 10:38am

      Response to: AnonCow on Dec 13th, 2016 @ 9:19am

      Yeah with HRC it would have been at McDonald's

      With Bernie maybe IKEA?

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

      • icon
        Oblate (profile), 13 Dec 2016 @ 5:22pm

        Re: Response to: AnonCow on Dec 13th, 2016 @ 9:19am

        Chuck E. Cheese or McDonalds, either way it's some clown running the party.

        With Bernie it would be like a birthday party at a salad bar, but at least there would be an adult table.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2016 @ 3:11pm

      Re:

      Having witnessed a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese, I think the comparison is likely apt. Of course, the kids didn't *know* it was called waterboarding.

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

  • identicon
    AnonCow, 13 Dec 2016 @ 9:19am

    The human rights abuses the will most likely happen under the Trump Administration will make that report look like a description of a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese.

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

  • icon
    art guerrilla (profile), 13 Dec 2016 @ 9:37am

    have you been to chuck e cheese...

    ...at a kids bday party ?
    it is scary, even ISIS avoids that place...

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

  • identicon
    David, 13 Dec 2016 @ 10:09am

    Ah yes, preserved.

    We stored it in formaldehyde. Oh noes, who swapped the formaldehyde container with prussic acid?

    What an unlikely mishap to occur.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2016 @ 11:44am

    "Obama continues to protect Bush-era criminals"

    Shocker.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2016 @ 12:30pm

    Keep fighting the good fight, Mike. Things may seem grim, and it's likely to get rough over the next few years, but things will get better eventually. Keep the faith.

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

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 13 Dec 2016 @ 5:34pm

    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.

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

  • identicon
    spodula, 14 Dec 2016 @ 5:30am

    Silly silly

    You think the legislation for protection of official secrets is to protect Secrets?
    Dont be silly, its actually to protect Officials.

    By the time anything in the legislation kicks in, the damage is already done!

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


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