from the stay-of-obfuscation-requested dept
So far, very little has been done with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 6,700-page “Torture Report.” Some agencies haven’t even read it (and have blocked others from doing so). Others have been completely careless in the handling of their copies. Most of the federal government — especially the White House — just seems to want it to go away.
Dianne Feinstein, who helped keep the full document from being made public (costing requesters like Jason Leopold thousands in legal fees), now wants the report declassified. The Obama administration has shown little interest in doing so.
Two former long-term Senators, Carl Levin and Jay Rockefeller (who both retired last year) — taking a look at the incoming administration — say it’s basically now or never if the full report is going to be saved. And these are two Senators who had plenty of experience and exposure to these issues. Rockefeller chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee at one point and Levin chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Given President-elect Donald J. Trump’s unconscionable campaign pledge to “bring back waterboarding” and “a hell of a lot worse” — acts that would be illegal if carried out — President Obama’s leadership on this issue has never been more important.
Drawing on our decades of work in the Senate and our chairmanships of the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, we are calling on President Obama to preserve the full torture report as a matter of profound public interest. We are not asking him to necessarily agree with all of the report’s findings, though we certainly hope he does, but we are asking him to protect it as an important piece of history.
The president could do this simply by allowing departments and agencies that already possess the document to enter it as a federal record, making it much more difficult for a future administration to erase.
So far, the public has only seen a summary of the report. While the summary, at 500 pages, is much better than nothing, the entire report could be buried forever by the new White House. If anyone owes the public some last-minute transparency, it’s President Obama. Despite frequently claiming to head up the “most transparent” administration in history, the Obama White House has presided over more whistleblower prosecutions than all others combined and a steady increase in FOIA request denials by federal agencies.
Entering it into the public record would head off future attempts to memory-hole this important report, something that’s already been attempted.
Senator Richard Burr… took the unusual step of trying to recall the full report that Senator Feinstein had distributed — to prevent it from ever being widely read or declassified. In this effort, Senator Burr has written to President Obama, insisting that the full report not only be returned but that it “should not be entered into any executive branch system of records.”
Since then the full report has been locked in limbo, with the Obama administration unwilling to even open the document, but also unwilling to return it to Senator Burr.
Even if Donald Trump hadn’t already vocalized his support of the tactics the report condemned, the temptation to turn this into a partisan issue (Sen. Burr is a Republican) could possibly see this request granted. If it is, the report will be assigned to the historical dustbin. The executive summary will always point to its existence, but no one outside of a select few will ever have a chance to see the report in its entirety — and the $40 million in taxpayer funds that was spent to research and write the report will go up in smoke too. That will make it that much easier for the incoming administration, and those beyond it, to start revising the CIA’s history by whitewashing the details that were never made public in the first place.