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March 14, 2014

Pressure Mounts to Declassify the Senate Torture Report

The Senate Intelligence Committee produced a landmark 6,000-page report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. This report has the potential to end the debate on torture and prevent its return. Hint: according to those who have read the report, it says that torture didn’t save American lives and that torture was more widespread and harsher than we thought. 

The problem: The American public can’t read it because it’s classified.

Bipartisan support for declassification is growing, and after developments this week, America may soon be able to know the truth about the CIA’s torture program.  Here’s what you may have missed.

March 11: Senator Dianne Feinstein accuses the CIA of obstructing the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation on torture.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) took to the Senate floor on Tuesday, March 11, to address the need for a strong oversight mechanism in Congress and noted the importance of the Senate intelligence committee’s report on the post-9/11 CIA torture program. Senator Feinstein, chair of the intelligence committee, responded to recent allegations that the CIA spied on computers provided to committee staff investigating the agency’s program. 

She described in her statement two main occasions of obstruction by the CIA: (1) Roughly 920 documents were removed by the CIA from the intelligence committee's computer in 2010 and (2) the CIA searched the intelligence committee's network in January 2014. She also reiterated that, if the report is declassified, "We will be able to ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted." Feinstein also decided to move forward with a vote in the Senate intelligence committee to declassify the report before the end of the month. 

Full transcript here

March 12: President Obama says he will declassify the torture report.

We already know that Vice President Joe Biden wants the Senate torture report to be released, but this week marks the first time President Obama committed publicly to declassify the report. 

"The first day I came into office, I ended the practices that are subject to the investigation by the Senate committee, and have been very clear that I believe they were contrary to our values as a country," Obama said. "Since that time we have worked with the committee so that the report that they are putting forward is well informed, and what I've said is that I am absolutely committed to declassifying that report as soon as it is completed."

March 13: Senator Mark Udall calls for the declassification of the torture report.

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"We need to correct the record on the CIA's coercive detention and interrogation program and declassify the Senate Intelligence Committee's exhaustive study of it. I released my hold on Caroline Krass's nomination today and voted for her to help change the direction of the agency," Senator Udall (D-CO) said. Read the full statement here

Photo: AP

March 13: John Rizzo reiterates support for declassification and calls for the full release of the CIA's rebuttal to the Senate torture report. 

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Former CIA Chief Legal Officer John Rizzo, one of the architects of the program, went on the Diane Rehm Show on Thursday, March 13, to discuss Senator Feinstein's claims about the CIA. 

"Obviously, I've not seen the report. I assume there are going to be things in there critical of my performance, my decisions...I believe that this report should come out. I've said that publicly...I think it needs to come out. I think the CIA's detailed rebuttal needs to come out. I just think everything needs to get out on the record. Let people judge. Let people decide and move on."

The American people deserve to know the truth about torture and what was done in their name. 

That's why Human Rights First has been at the forefront of the efforts to push for the release of the Senate torture report.

We partner with interrogators and retired admirals and generals--experts in national security who know that torture did not save American lives--to carry the message straight to the White House and Congress. We help shape the torture debate in the media. And we partner with the American people to make it clear to the Obama Administration and Congress that a healthy democracy examines its past and learns from it. That is the only way to ensure that, when we are tested again, we remain true to our ideals. 

Join our call to declassify the torture report by signing our petition. Follow developments on our work here