Coming clean on CIA war-on-terror torture?

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.

Sen. Mark Udall asks Obama administration to make a commitment on transparency

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — While some government officials would like nothing better than to sweep the details of the CIA’s brutal detention and interrogation program under the rug, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) continues to push for a full and transparent accounting of the agency’s actions.

As part of the so-called war on terror, the CIA was authorized by the Bush administration to torture prisoners in order to try and prevent terrorist attacks. Some legal experts say those actions violated international law, including the Geneva Convention, and some former Bush administration officials have been indicted in absentia by courts in other countries.

Udall has long claimed that the U.S. needs to come clean about its actions in order to rebuild credibility and trust in the international community. In a Jan. 6 letter to President Barack Obama, Udall said he wants the CIA to release documents needed by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to complete its report on the agency’s activities under the Bush administration.

Udall also pressed the White House to commit to declassifying as much of the report as possible. The letter follows up on identical requests Udall made at the December confirmation hearing of Caroline Krass, nominated to serve as CIA General Counsel.

“I continue to have deep concerns about how the CIA has interacted with the Senate Intelligence Committee throughout the nearly four years that the Committee has been researching and drafting its study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program,” Udall wrote.

“Mr. President, I believe these are reasonable requests. I want to underscore their importance — as well as the importance of correcting the public record. As you know, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s study concludes that in the case of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, inaccurate and misleading information was conveyed by the CIA to the public, the Congress, the Department of Justice, the Department of State — and to the President of the United States. This must never happen again.”

In his letter, Udall pressed the White House for more information and assurances before he would be able to support the nominee to be CIA General Counsel. Specifically, Udall pressed the White House and CIA for assistance regarding three requests:

  • That the White House publicly commit to the fullest possible declassification of the committee’s study in the most expedient and responsible manner possible;
  • That the CIA provide to the committee a copy of an internal CIA review of the detention and interrogation program, which Udall believes contradicts the agency’s formal response to the committee; and,
  • That the CIA respond to outstanding committee requests for cables and other information that are necessary for the completion of the committee’s study.

“In 2009, you made it clear that the CIA’s detention and interrogation program and its coercive ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ had no place in an Obama Administration. I deeply appreciate your stand on this and similarly important issues. Further, I strongly believe that coercive interrogation techniques and abusive treatment have no place in any future U.S. administration,” Udall added in the letter. “For this reason, I look forward to working with you and your team to responsibly declassify the committee’s study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. Only by doing so can we ensure that the correct lessons are learned from this difficult chapter in our country’s history, and the policy and management issues uncovered are corrected and never repeated.”

Udall has been the leading voice in Congress for the White House and CIA to come clean about the agency’s deeply flawed detention and interrogation program. Udall has led the push to hold the CIA accountable for leaks concerning the agency’s official response to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s exhaustive report. Udall also has criticized statements made by former Bush administration officials on the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation techniques.

Read Udall’s letter here.

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