Friday, June 16, 2017

Trump administration seeks to keep full CIA torture report hidden

The Trump administration is taking action to prevent the full CIA torture report of 2014 of 6,700 pages from being made public by having copies returned to Congress which is exempt from laws requiring government records be made available to the public.

The report describes the harsh detention and interrogation programs used by the United States. The White House claimed the move was made in response to requests by Senator Richard Burr, the current Republican chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
In a statement Burr said: "I have directed my staff to retrieve copies of the Congressional study that remain with the Executive Branch agencies and, as the Committee does with all classified and compartmented information, will enact the necessary measures to protect the sensitive sources and methods contained within the report."
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein who had formerly chaired the committee had asked that it be distributed to many executive branches so it could be eventually released to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. Feinstein said she was concerned and disappointed by Burr's action saying: "No senator, chairman or not, has the authority to erase history. I believe that is the intent of the chairman in this case." The top Democrat on the committee Sen. Mark Warner said that the report should be preserved so the US can learn from past mistakes and so it will be sure never to repeat the abuses detailed in the report.
A declassified executive summary of the report was released to the public in December of 2014 and concluded that the CIA's programs using techniques such as water-boarding were more brutal and less effective than the CIA had reported to policymakers. The report even claimed that not a single terrorist attack was shown to have been foiled by the use of harsh interrogation techniques.
Four months after the release of the report the U.S. administration had taken no meaningful steps to end the impunity of those responsible for the abuses outlined in the report of the secret detention program. At that time representatives of the Department of Justice noted that no one had read the classified full reports and instead had left CD copies of the report unread in a secure facility. Feinstein in her attempts to have the report released distributed the report to a number of agencies to prevent exactly what the Republicans are now attempting to do, bury it for good.
Elizabeth Beaver, senior campaigner with Amnesty International USA said that the move to refuse to release the report could be a first step in a Trump administration plan to actually reinstate a policy of torture. She said that the details of the report should be made public and those responsible for abuse should be held responsible. Beaver claimed: “If this report is hidden from public view, it will be a massive step backward to a time when the U.S. refused to admit to conducting torture. Top cabinet officials committed to reading the Senate report during their confirmation hearings, and still must keep that promise. The report must be made public.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had litigated to have the full report released, but U.S. courts have ruled that since the document was created by Congress, it was exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. In anticipation of what the Trump administration might do the top White House lawyer Neil Eggleston wrote to Senator Feinstein indicating that a copy of the full report would be preserved in Obama's presidential archive. Obama could have released the document publicly but refused to do so:President Obama has told Senate intelligence leaders that he will preserve a 7,000-page Senate report on how the CIA detained and interrogated terror suspects after 9/11 in his presidential papers — but won’t seek to declassify the document prior to leaving office. The president has informed the Archivist that access to classified material should be restricted for the full 12 years allowed under [the Presidential Records Act],” Obama’s chief lawyer wrote Friday to Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the ranking member and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
In other words, the public must wait at least twelve years to find out the details of the CIA secret program assuming the copy is not lost somehow.

No comments: