The Trump administration is moving to keep the lengthy Senate report on the CIA’s torture and detention program forever from the public eye, the New York Times first reported Friday.
That’s because the administration is returning to Congress copies of the over 6,000-page document, following through on requests made by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the Senate Intelligence Committee’s current chairman. Laws requiring government records to eventually be made public don’t apply to congressional documents.
The Times, citing multiple congressional officials, writes that the “CIA, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the CIA’s inspector general have returned their copies of the report.”
Burr, who’s been a critic of the report, said in a statement to Reuters: “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.”
But countered Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project: “It would be a travesty for agencies to return the CIA torture report instead of reading and learning from it, as senators intended.”
Shamsi, whose organization has sought for years public release of the report, added: “The landmark investigative report documents horrific abuses and details of CIA lies to the White House, Congress, the courts, and the public about its torture program. This critically important investigation should have been made public and must not be buried or destroyed.”
Human rights organization Reprieve also criticized the move to totally bury the report.
“America’s lack of interest in history—even our own—has now gone from pathological to dangerous,” said Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, U.S. attorney at Reprieve specializing in counter-terrorism abuses. “For over a decade, our government has refused to reckon with U.S. torture, preferring to deny or suppress the facts. It is no surprise that we now have a president whose contempt for facts leads to dangerous decisions. We cannot learn from history unless we know what it is.”
When the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, then under the chairmanship of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), was released in December of 2014, Ben Emmerson, United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, said that those “responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in [the] report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.”
Sullivan-Bennis also referenced that shorter document as well as the still-open Guantanamo Bay prison, where “[h]armless men are still languishing [ . . . ] without charge or trial, due entirely to mistakes and abuses detailed in the summary of that report—merely the tip of the iceberg. My clients and the American people are entitled to see the truth. Lawmakers should be ashamed of this disgraceful cover-up, and Americans should ask themselves what our government is so desperate to hide.”
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