Trump Moving To Finalize Bipartisan Effort To Bury America’s Torture History

American torture victim and symbol of modern America.

By Andrea Germanos
Common Dreams (6/2/17)

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.”

“Americans should ask themselves what our government is so desperate to hide.”

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.”

Burying the truth

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 pesident 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.” [Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) was completely supportive of Pres. Obama’s efforts to bury the report for at least 12 years, making it possible for Trump now to permanently bury the truth. – CC Ed.].

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.”

Link to Story

  • NY Times: An Effort To Permanently Seal The CIA Torture Report – Senators, spies and a president spent years in a pitched battle over how the history is told of one of the most controversial chapters of America’s campaign against terrorism, the detention and interrogation of prisoners in secret C.I.A. jails. But recent moves by the Trump administration have increased the likelihood that much of what is known about the macabre humiliations that unfolded in those jails around the world will remain hidden from public view. Congressional officials said on Friday that the administration had begun returning to Congress copies of a 6,700-page Senate report from 2014 about the C.I.A. program. The move raises the possibility that most of the copies could be locked in Senate vaults indefinitely …

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Obama Made It Possible For Trump To Now Bury History Of CIA Torture Scandal

(Editor’s Note: In the final months of his term Democrat Barak Obama made it possible for republican Donald Trump and senate republicans to now bury the shameful record of American torture in Iraq. Despite pressure from many democrats and human rights activists Obama cynically kept the records hidden in the face of a possible Trump presidency. The record of the investigation – paid for by taxpayers – will now disappear and make repetition of the same – and worse – probable. The groundwork has now been laid for the same to happen again and to happen here in the United States with dissidents being imprisoned and tortured. Truly a bipartisan betrayal. – Mark L. Taylor)

By Spencer Ackerman
The Guardian (12/12/16)

Barack Obama has agreed to preserve the Senate’s landmark investigation into the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11, but his decision ensures that the document remains out of public view for at least 12 years and probably longer.

Obama’s decision, revealed in a letter from White House counsel W Neil Eggleston, prevents Republican Richard Burr, the Senate intelligence committee chairman who has been highly critical of the investigation, from destroying existing classified copies of the December 2014 report.

Daniel Jones, a former committee staffer who led the torture inquiry, criticized the preservation as inadequate.

“The bar for positive White House action on this is incredibly low. Preserving the full 6,700-page report under the Presidential Records Act only ensures the report will not be destroyed,” Jones said. “It does little else.”

The full Senate torture report, which documented brutality by the CIA against at least 119 detained terrorism suspects, will be held out of public view at Obama’s presidential library.

Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, Burr’s predecessor as chair and now the vice-chair of the Senate intelligence committee, said on Monday she was “pleased” Obama had placed the inquiry she spearheaded into his presidential record. Feinstein noted the document would “one day be available for declassification”.

But that day, according to secrecy and intelligence experts, is a long way off. …

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Reprieve is an organisation of courageous and committed human rights defenders. Founded in 1999 by British human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, we provide free legal and investigative support to some of the world’s most vulnerable people: those facing execution, and those victimised by states’ abusive counter-terror policies – rendition, torture, extrajudicial imprisonment and extrajudicial killing.

Our lawyers and investigators are supported by a community of people from all around the world, connected by a belief in human rights and justice. Together, we fight for the victims of extreme human rights abuses with a combination of public pressure and legal action. 

To Learn More & Support Our Work Helping Torture Victims Worldwide, Link HERE.