White House Defends CIA Redactions of Senate Torture Report
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report on the CIA torture program is delayed yet again as the committee and Langley haggle over redactions. Senator Feinstein issued the following statement earlier this week: “I have concluded the redactions eliminate or obscure key facts that support the report’s findings and conclusions.” The White House, however, defends the redactions – claiming they account for “only” 15 percent of the document. To give you an idea of what that looks like, check out this version of President Obama’s press statement on torture from last Friday with 15 percent of the words blacked out.
Obama has endorsed the senate report and publicly denounced torture on many occasions. On Friday he said, “We crossed a line. … And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that hopefully we don't do it again in the future." His continued sheltering of CIA officials and authorization of their redactions, however, call into question his commitment to allowing Americans to see the truth on torture. After CIA Director John Brennan admitted that the CIA hacked into senators’ computers (which indicates either complicity or problematic ignorance on Brennan’s part), Obama stated that he still maintained “full confidence” in Brennan.
The CIA has a clear conflict of interest when it comes to redacting the report, which extensively documents its wrongdoing. By allowing it to wield the black marker, the administration enables the CIA to cover its own tracks. White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that the redactions protect “sources and methods and other information that is critical to our national security.” However, the kinds of redactions that have been reported don’t seem to fit that category.
Some of the redactions include information that has been widely available to the public for years. Pseudonyms meant to protect CIA operatives’ identities were redacted, making the report confusing and unreadable. Additionally, information that disproves the CIA’s claim of obtaining valuable information through torture was also reportedly removed. As Senator Carl Levin said, “Classification should be used to protect sources and methods or the disclosure of information which could compromise national security, not to avoid disclosure of improper acts or embarrassing information.”
The White House needs to stop covering for the CIA and take hold of the redaction process. The American people deserve to know the truth.