When Senator Diane Feinstein released the declassified executive summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on the CIA’s torture program, she also sent members of the administration the full, 6,000-page classified report—presumably so that the people with the appropriate security clearance could learn from the important information on the institutional and operational failures documented therein.
So far, they haven’t taken advantage of that opportunity. Human Rights First, along with other rights groups, noted in a recent letter to the White House that “when the Justice Department, State Department, Defense Department and CIA received their respective copies, each immediately locked it away and virtually none has made meaningful use of it since,” according to a Freedom of Information Act request.
Now the new SSCI Chairman, Richard Burr, is trying to claw back those copies of the report. In one of his first acts as the committee chair, he sent a letter to the executive branch asking them to return all report copies. Apparently our nation’s chapter on torture is something Burr would rather keep unread.
Like it or not, the abuses documented in the SSCI report are a part of our history. How we as a nation respond to those revelations is equally important.
The joint letter states:
“Government officials must thoroughly understand how and why torture was authorized and perpetrated in order to effectively guard against its repetition. Accordingly, we urge you to direct the relevant agencies and departments in your administration to review the full report and to adopt appropriate internal reforms to help permanently eradicate torture and cruel treatment from official U.S. policy.”
If Obama wants to uphold his legacy on torture, he should absolutely heed the request in Human Rights First’s joint letter. If not, it’s more than a missed opportunity—but complicity in a cover-up.