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December 13, 2016

President Obama Preserves Senate Torture Report

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today applauded the Obama Administration’s decision to archive the Senate intelligence committee’s report on the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program. This move ensures that the report will be preserved and can be declassified in the future.

“The Senate torture report is one of the most comprehensive and thorough oversight endeavors in congressional history, and without taking a hard look at our past mistakes we are likely to repeat them,” said Human Rights First’s Raha Wala. “Some have recently called for a return to the torture program, despite evidence that torture was not useful at gaining actionable intelligence. The torture report is an essential tool for rebutting those claims and upholding the bipartisan consensus against torture.”

In December 2014, the Senate intelligence committee publicly released its executive summary on the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program. The report is the result of an investigation launched with bipartisan support, and the report itself was both adopted and declassified in separate bipartisan votes in the committee. The findings document a program that was far more brutal and widespread than Americans were led to believe.  The findings also reveal that the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” did not produce critical intelligence gains that had previously been claimed and that the CIA systematically misled the administration and Congress about the efficacy of the program. 

The report’s findings enjoy widespread support from political, national security, and intelligence leaders, including among Republican Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The report was also initiated, adopted, and submitted for declassification on three independent, bipartisan votes. A nonpartisan group of retired generals and admirals who stood with President Obama in the Oval Office as he signed an executive order banning torture advocated for the report’s release.

In the wake of the report’s release, Senators McCain and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) sponsored landmark anti-torture legislation that reinforces the United States’ ban on the use of torture, including waterboarding and other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The legislation—which passed in a 78-21 vote in the Senate and was signed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2016 Fiscal Year—is an historic victory in the fight to reestablish a durable, bipartisan consensus against torture.

The amendment passed the Senate with the support of a broad bipartisan majority, which included the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence, armed services, homeland security, foreign relations, and judiciary committees.

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