Thursday, April 3, 2014

SSCI votes 11-3 to declassify the executive summary of the Senate panel's report on the CIA torture program

As reported by Jason Leopold on Twitter a few hours ago, The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted today, 11 to 3, to declassify the executive summary of the Committee's now infamous report on the CIA Torture program.

In a statement made by Mark Udall (D-CO) on the  SSCI vote (via @JasonLeopold "Twitlonger" post):

Full statement from Udall on SSCI vote to declassify exec summary of CIA rpt:

Udall Heralds Historic Vote to Declassify Senate Intelligence Committee Study of CIA's Detention, Interrogation Program
Udall Pledges to Fight to Ensure White House, CIA Do Not Stymie Public Release of Landmark Study
Mark Udall, a leading advocate for Congress's duty to provide strong and independent oversight of covert agencies, heralded the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's bipartisan 11-3 vote today to declassify its landmark study of the CIA's detention and interrogation program. Udall, who serves on the committee and has led the effort to declassify the Senate Intelligence Committee's study, pledged to press the White House and CIA for the fullest possible declassification of the committee’s report.
"Today's vote is a historic moment for the Senate Intelligence Committee and our vigorous oversight efforts. I am calling on the president today to oversee the declassification process to ensure that as much of this important document as possible sees the light of day," Udall said. "The Constitution is clear and Coloradans agree that the Senate Intelligence Committee has a responsibility to oversee the CIA — regardless of who is president — and provide a full and accurate accounting of the operation and effectiveness of this misguided and destructive program.
"The public release of this study is critical to shedding light on this dark chapter of our country's history. It is also critical to restoring the credibility and integrity of the CIA as an institution. Anyone who dismisses this study for its focus on actions of the past need only look at the events of the past few months — in particular, the CIA's unauthorized search of the committee's computers — to understand that the CIA not only hasn't learned from its mistakes, but continues to perpetuate them. This study should impart crucial lessons to the CIA about the need to better operate and assess its programs and to accurately represent them. Acknowledging the detention and interrogation program's flaws is essential for the CIA's long-term institutional integrity, as well as for the legitimacy of ongoing sensitive programs. The findings of this report directly relate to how other CIA programs are managed today.
"To those who continue to argue that torture is effective, this study makes a powerful argument to the contrary — drawing from six million of the CIA's own records and past interview reports of key personnel to do so. I hope that one of the key lessons that the CIA and our national security leaders take from this study is that we should never again torture in the name of national security — and that oversight of intelligence operations is essential in a constitutional democracy."
Udall, who has repeatedly pressed the White House to publicly commit to declassifying the Senate Intelligence Committee's study, further urged the White House to ensure the CIA does not oversee the declassification of the study.
"Following today's historic vote, the president faces what I believe should be a straightforward question. He can defer declassification decisions to the CIA — which has demonstrated an inability to face the truth about this program — or pass this authority to the Director of National Intelligence or hold on to the redaction pen himself," Udall added. "The president needs to understand that the CIA's clear conflict of interest here requires that the White House step in and manage this process."

The Guardian's, Spencer Ackerman, reported yesterday:

The Senate select committee on intelligence has waged an unprecedented and acrimonious public battle with the CIA over a secret 6,300-page investigation concluding torture was an ineffective intelligence-gathering technique and that the CIA lied about its value. On Thursday, the committee is slated to take a belated vote to make it public.
Or more precisely, it will vote to make a slice public. And the CIA will have a significant degree of influence over how large and how public that slice will be.

The committee is not going to release the 6,300-page report. Its chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein of California, said on the Senate floor three weeks ago that only the “findings, conclusions and the executive summary of the report” were the subject of the committee’s declassification efforts. The vast majority of the Senate report – effectively, an alternative post-9/11 history detailing of years’ worth of CIA torture and cover-up – will remain shielded from public view.

“The executive summary will tell us much more than we know right now about the CIA program but much less than the full report,” Katherine Hawkins, a former investigator with the Constitution Project’s own private inquiry on counterterrorism detentions.
“I hope this is the beginning of the declassification process, not the end.”

Nor, staffers concede, is the committee itself even sure of the exact procedure that will unfold if it votes to declassify part of the report, let alone how long it will take.

The outline is clear enough: the Obama administration will review the sections of the report for declassification, and then declassification of some aspects of the report will occur. The CIA is expected to play a major role in approving material for release, despite feuding with the committee about what it considers an unfair and inaccurate portrayal.

Steven Aftergood, an intelligence policy analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, considers the agency’s role a conflict of interest.
“They functionally control the declassification process, and they have an interest in how they as an agency are portrayed in the final product,” Aftergood said. “They’re not an impartial party, and that’s a flaw in the process.”

A CIA spokesman, Dean Boyd, said the agency still had not received a final copy of the Senate report and could not comment on its contents. But he indicated the agency’s support for its release – something the White House has committed itself to, at least for some sections.

“If portions of the report are submitted to the CIA for classification review, we’ll carry out the review expeditiously,” Boyd said.
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to “speculate” in advance of the Senate vote on how long declassification would take. But she reaffirmed that Obama urges the committee “to complete the report and send it to us, so that we can declassify the findings and the American people can understand what happened in the past, and that can help guide us as we move forward”.

If public, the report would represent a milestone in reassessing what torture actually was, placing the stamp of officialdom on a narrative that has long been a dissenting view.

In a statement today, Dianne Feinstein stated "The full 6,200-page full report has been updated and will be held for declassification at a later time"

One wonders what was redacted from the original 6,300 page report that is now "updated" to 6,200 pages.

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