Senate Committee Votes to Release Landmark Report on CIA Torture

April 3, 2014 12:00 am

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Upcoming Declassification Review Will Be Key Test for President Obama

April 3, 2014

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WASHINGTON – The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted today, by a bipartisan majority, to submit to the White House for declassification review and public release the executive summary, findings, and conclusions of the panel’s report on the CIA’s Bush-era rendition, secret detention, and torture program. The full 6,300-page report is the most comprehensive account to date of the torture program.

“The vote on this landmark report is a big step towards making sure that all Americans know the truth about torture, so that we can make sure that torture is never used again,” said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union. “The key challenge for President Obama now is whether he will finally stand up to the CIA. The president should assert his authority to have the White House itself, and not the CIA, decide what gets declassified and what gets redacted. The CIA should not be handed a black-out pen to hide its use of torture or the lies it told to keep the torture program going.”

A coalition of human rights and civil liberties groups sent a letter to President Obama last week to urge him, “given the CIA’s inherent conflict of interest concerning the report,” to have the White House itself lead the declassification process.

According to media accounts, the Senate report found that the CIA misled Congress, the Justice Department, and the Bush White House about the use of torture methods such as simulated drownings, shackling in painful positions, induced hypothermia, and slamming detainees against walls. The report also reportedly found that such methods did not help locate Osama bin Laden or thwart any terrorist plots, and were in fact counterproductive.

The ACLU is currently litigating a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain the full investigative report, the CIA’s official response defending its actions, and an internal agency review commissioned by then-CIA Director Leon Panetta. The Panetta review reportedly contradicts some of the CIA’s official response to the Senate report. The CIA agreed in January in the lawsuit to process for possible release the CIA response and the Panetta review. That potential release is scheduled for May 22.

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