Seven US senators urged the Obama administration to declassify the 6,770-page Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program so the public could have a full account of past torture practices.
White House counsel Neil Eggleston, in responding to the request, said the president had told the National Archives and Records Administration that access to the classified material should be shielded from public access requests for 12 years.
“At this time, we are not pursing declassification of the full study,” Eggleston wrote in a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D, California).
After 12 years, a record request to Obama’s archives would prompt a process to consider declassification.
Senator Feinstein, who spearheaded the investigation and declassification request said she was pleased the report was being preserved in Obama’s archives but acknowledged the rejection for immediate declassification.
“It’s my very strong belief that one day this report should be declassified,” Feinstein told the AP. “This must be a lesson learned: that torture doesn’t work.”
Barack Obama To Archive Torture Report, Declassify After 12 Years. https://t.co/mWRXqh5BVi— US President News (@President) December 12, 2016
The 525-page executive summary of the report was released in late 2014 and citied CIA documents that showed the interrogation program was more brutal than previously understood. It provided details on the abuse of 119 prisons, including five men facing trial by military commission at Guantanamo for their alleged roles planning and aiding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The summary showed that the ‘enhanced’ interrogation didn’t yield any unique intelligence that couldn’t have ordinary been acquired from regular interrogation techniques.
Senator Wyden (D, Oregon) said he will start “on the very first day of the new session building a bipartisan coalition to get the study declassified.”
“The American people deserve the opportunity to read this history rather than see it locked away in a safe for twelve years. When the president-elect has promised to bring back torture, it is more critical than ever that the study be made available to cleared personnel throughout the federal government who are responsible for authorizing and implementing our country’s detention and interrogation policies,” said Wyden in a released statement.
Wyden said “burying the Study achieves nothing but to create an information vacuum that gets filled with uniformed and highly dangerous propaganda.”
In a related story, defense lawyers in the September 11 war crimes case at Guantanamo Bay asked a judge last week to secure a copy of the US Senate report before President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
“The new administration has made statement promising waterboarding or worse and there are many reasons to believe it is hostile to preservation of the report,” lawyer James Connell.
Connell, who represents Ammar al Baluchi, told the military judge presiding over the case who argued The Trump administration would be less likely to turn over the report, or may even seek its destruction.
Eight copies of the report were distributed to various branches of government, including the Department of Defense, but the CIA inspector general disclosed that it had destroyed its copy.
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