Obama Has Saved One Copy Of The Torture Report From Destruction, But What's Going To Happen To The Rest Of Them?

from the 'accidental'-incineration,-probably dept

Even if the White House won't declassify the full CIA Torture Report, at least we know one copy will be locked up in President Obama's archives for 12 years. That prevents Senator Burr and others from making the report disappear completely.

The White House copy isn't the only copy of the report, but at least we know where that one is. Other agencies have copies. Or had them. But they haven't read them. The CIA destroyed its copy of the report -- the sort of "accident" that often befalls damning reports in the hands of the agency targeted by them.

There's another copy sitting further up the hierarchy as well. Or is there? The Defense Department is supposed to have its own copy and as the department the CIA answers to, it should be doing what it can to ensure its copy doesn't disappear.

The Defense Department, however, may or may not have one -- depending on who you ask and when you ask it. Katherine Hawkins of Just Security notes that the DoD's copy -- if it even still exists -- won't be made a part of any public record anytime soon if it can help it.

Last week it emerged that the existence of the Defense Department’s copy is also in doubt. The chief prosecutor at the Guantanamo military commissions, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, repeatedly refused to answer direct questions from the military judge about whether the Department of Defense still had its copy of the report. The Defense Department had acknowledged receipt of the full report in a court declaration in January 2015, and the U.S. government told both a federal court and the military commission judge that it would be preserved.

That was early last year, long before anyone inside the government was asking an outgoing president to declassify the report. That was also long before the Defense Department was having to discuss the existence of the document in court, thanks to the trial of alleged 9/11 attack mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Mohammed's attorney hinted that the document could very well vanish sometime after Inauguration Day and asked the presiding judge to push the DoD to preserve its copy as well.

Martins, however, refused to make any such promises, much less fully confirm the DoD's copy was still intact.

Nonetheless, asked whether DoD had kept its word and retained its copy, Martins repeatedly evaded the question, and finally replied, “I’m not prepared to answer the question. I can determine if there’s a way to find that information.”

Whatever that means.

Martins may not want the document to become part of the court record. Or it could mean Martins truly has no idea whether the DoD's copy is still intact. Either way, it's clear the Defense Department would rather not acknowledge the document's existence on the record. Fortunately, the judge has ordered the Defense Department to answer the question in writing within the next couple of days.

Hawkins points out that even if Obama doesn't want to declassify the document, he could at least make sure every other government agency with a copy takes care to preserve theirs as well.

Obama could remedy the situation by writing a letter to executive agencies instructing them to open the report and begin reviewing it for lessons learned, and replace any copies that were destroyed. The administration could also withdraw its opposition to detainees’ pending motions seeking preservation of the report as a court record in both the military commissions and habeas corpus cases.

As it stands now, all that has been guaranteed is the existence of a single copy -- the President's. And that one's just going to sit in his archives for the next dozen years, still out of reach of the general public.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 8:38am

    Well Mr. Nobel Peace prize?

    You gonna declassify? As President you have the power... why don't you flex your power for the benefit of America for a change... you know, instead of against it like you love to do?

    What a crock of garbage, so easy to fool the tools that voted for Bamy!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 8:42am

    Whatever happened to..

    "If you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear from surveillance".

    Obviously, everyone KNOWS they did something "WRONG".

    Maybe Vladimir Putin will publish it...

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

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 15 Dec 2016 @ 9:16am

      Re: Whatever happened to..

      The danger isn't that Putin will publish it. It's that Putin will publish a somehow-even-worse report that *claims* to be it.

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

      • identicon
        I.T. Guy, 15 Dec 2016 @ 9:19am

        Re: Re: Whatever happened to..

        Oh just stop it.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 15 Dec 2016 @ 10:17am

        Re: Re: Whatever happened to..

        The CIA repeatedly engaged in torture and murder of prisoners, lied about it to congress, and was given the greenlight to continue based upon said lies.

        Putin would have to work really hard to come up with something worse I'd say.

        On the upside, if he or someone else did come up with a 'worse' fake report the USG would almost have to release the actual report in order to refute it, as no-one would likely buy the 'that's not what it says, trust us' response.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 8:52am

    Is it not stored digitally somewhere? I mean, they had to print those copies out from a digital source at some point, did they actually scrub or destroy the storage media after printing the paper copies?

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

  • identicon
    techdirtReader, 15 Dec 2016 @ 9:29am

    Dumb question - can a president authorize the removal of records preserved under the Presidential Records Act? In particular, can a president authorize the removal of records added by an earlier president?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 15 Dec 2016 @ 10:14am

      Re:

      Possibly.

      From the wiki page:

      Specifically, the Presidential Records Act:

      • Defines and states public ownership of the records.

      • Places the responsibility for the custody and management of incumbent Presidential records with the President.

      • Allows the incumbent President to dispose of records that no longer have administrative, historical, informational, or evidentiary value, once he has obtained the views of the Archivist of the United States on the proposed disposal.

      It would require Trump or a future president to convince the archivist that the records didn't have value in any of the listed categories, which might be a hard sell depending on how serious said archivist took their job, but it could be done if I'm reading it right.

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

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 15 Dec 2016 @ 10:12am

    ā€œIā€™m not prepared to answer the question. I can determine if thereā€™s a way to find that information.ā€

    Whatever that means = Yes we have it, but I don't know if I am allowed to say so. and; I will see how we are going to say we don't have a copy.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2016 @ 5:24pm

    Yeah, it's not going to happen. Since it happened under Obama, it will embarass him. Maybe Trump will selectively release parts that embarass Obama and support torture.

    Nothing to hide, nothing to fear. Sure...

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 16 Dec 2016 @ 12:17am

    Wave bye-bye

    Forget about this report. Even the one at the archives is not coming out. They buried it in the new poured-concrete foundation--and didn't even wrap it first.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 1:51am

    I was recently tortured at stark county jail for twelve days and was coerced into copping a plea for something I was completely innocent of just so I could get critical medicine I have to take for neuropathy in my feet that is so bad I can't sleep without it. Try not sleeping for twelve days in a jail cell sometime. I subsequebtly had the brady bill shoved up my arse. That is what they conspired to do and used this case and incarceration against me for that end to my 2nd amendnent rights for copping a nolo contendre to a misdemeanor 1 and 4 for protecting myself against an out of control ex girlfriend. What bullshit injustice will make you mad as hell now.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 16 Dec 2016 @ 8:35am

    Not that this one that should be shielded from destruction won't be accidentally chewed by the dogs.

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

    • identicon
      GEMont, 19 Dec 2016 @ 9:41pm

      Re:

      Un-necessary.

      The one copy is not hard, and is encrypted militarily, tied directly to a military kill switch for easy deletion by a non-civilian who wears the copy-bearing chip behind his dog-tag.

      (NOTE: there is no such thing as a non-civilian.. honest.

      Life is so smooth and easy when your wildest dreams become legally do-able through the magic of the public tax trough.

      However an actual "real-live-copy" might be stored, it is absolutely guaranteed to be in a form that no human can read.

      Personally, I think the Report has been eliminated from existence already, although it really does not matter.

      Once out of Office, all promises are smoke.

      Just like the Report.

      And the Dino-tician; T. Rump, will make all of this silly, soon-to-be-unimportant discussion about being mean to terrorists, simply melt away from the public mind, as it sluggishly tries its damnedest not to deal with the real live fascist at the helm of the world's biggest bully nation.

      We are the Children in the Chinese Curse. :)

      ---

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


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