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March 25, 2014

White House Urged to Lead Senate Torture Report Declassification Process

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First is urging President Obama to direct White House staff to lead the declassification process of the Senate intelligence committee’s report on the post-9/11 CIA torture program. It is expected that the committee will hold a declassification as early as this week. The ask came in a letter sent in coalition with seven other human rights groups.

“We appreciate CIA Director Brennan’s pledge ‘not . . . to stand in the way’ of release of the report,” stated the letter. “However, he simply cannot eliminate his agency’s conflict of interest. The recent allegations that the CIA searched computers made available to the SSCI, removed documents from them, triggered potential criminal proceedings against congressional staff and took other troubling steps make this inherent conflict of interest very vivid.”

The intelligence committee study is the culmination of an oversight effort that the Senate intelligence committee began five years ago. The 6,000-plus page report on the former CIA detention and torture program was adopted by a bipartisan vote of 9-6 in December 2012. The report’s public release promises to formally set the record straight on claims that torture played a significant role in gaining actionable intelligence, such as the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.  Sen. Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the committee, has denied that torture or other abusive interrogation techniques played any such role.

Support for the report’s release is widespread, bipartisan, and growing. President Obama recently made headlines when he publicly committed for the first time to ensuring that the Senate intelligence committee report is declassified and released to the American people.

“The upcoming declassification vote, if successful, is only the first step to having this report see the light,” said Human Rights First’s Raha Wala. “The CIA has proven that it cannot be trusted to deliver this comprehensive report to the American people. Now President Obama has to live up to his commitment and direct his staff to handle the declassification process.”

For more information or to speak with Wala, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.

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