Obama: Release the Senate Torture Report

W. Paul Smith notes that it was one year ago that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence finished compiling a massive report, more than 6000 pages, on the torture regime constructed by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. You’ve never seen that report because the Obama administration has classified it and refused to release it, even in redacted form.

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s adoption of a sweeping 6,300-page study detailing the CIA’s post-9/11 detention, rendition, torture and interrogation program. But the public has yet to see one word of it.

That’s because, even though it deals with some of the most important and contentious issues this country has grappled with in recent years, the entire report remains classified.

Here’s what we do know about the report:

First, it is almost certainly the most exhaustive, detailed investigation of the CIA torture program to date. The committee spent more than three years researching the program, including reviewing six million pages of documents.

Second, according to senators who have seen it, the report includes a damning indictment and repudiation of the longstanding claims that torture and ill treatment led to accurate and actionable intelligence.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the report “confirms for me what I have always believed and insisted to be true – that the cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners is not only wrong in principle and a stain on our country’s conscience, but also an ineffective and unreliable means of gathering intelligence.”

And according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the report details how “the CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information about its interrogation program to the White House, the Justice Department, and Congress.”

This was later confirmed by Stephen W. Preston, former CIA general counsel, who, during the confirmation process in August to become the general counsel for the Department of Defense, sent written responses to questions from Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) about the report, writing that the CIA’s “briefings to the Committees included inaccurate information related to aspects of the program of express interest to Members.”

It’s bad enough that Obama has refused to allow prosecutors to charge Bush administration officials with torture. That, in and of itself, is a very clear violation of the Convention Against Torture. They he also refuses to even let the American people see the evidence of what happened makes it doubly appalling.

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  • nichrome
  • I’m shocked. I didn’t even know we tortured the Senate. Sounds like good policy, to me. It’s a reason to watch C-Span, anyway.

    And also, I only read page titles.

  • matty1

    Modusoperandi “I didn’t even know we tortured the Senate” What did you think Ted Cruz marathon babble was then?

  • Michael Heath

    Probably the most disheartening moment I’ve had the past couple of weeks was when I read that President Bush and Mrs. Bush would accompany President Obama and the first lady on Air Force One to attend the Mandela Memorial Service.

    While I previously knew the odds were low, I was hoping that President Obama would revisit the torture issue after the ’14 congressional elections. Inviting Mr. Bush on his plane strongly suggests that Mr. Obama perceives Mr. Bush in a manner very different than those of us who demand equal protection and due process.

  • The title excited me. I thought it meant Obama was saying “Release the torture report.” Sadly, it was just a confusing title.

  • If ever there was a time for a leak, now would be it. This would be a bigger story than the Pentagon Papers.

  • jameshanley

    @Michael Heath,

    I was hoping that President Obama would revisit the torture issue after the ’14 congressional elections. Inviting Mr. Bush on his plane strongly suggests that Mr. Obama perceives Mr. Bush in a manner very different than those of us who demand equal protection and due process.

    That hope was rather naive. Obama is now a member of the most exclusive club, and members of that club protect the power of that club’s shared office. There was only infinitesimal reason to hope even when Obama was first running for the club, and when he used drones, supported domestic spying, and relied upon the state secrets privilege that infinitesimal hope was snuffed out. To maintain even a hint of such a hope after a full term of Obama in office is naive beyond reason.

  • Michael Heath


    Please see my qualifier prior to what you quote from me:

    While I previously knew the odds were low . . .

    Sheesh; you’re criticizing me for level of confidence I didn’t have. And yes, I’m fully aware of that particular exclusive club and how it works, which is one reason I always knew the odds were low.

    And while I conclude faith is a juvenile thinking defect, I continue to think hope within the context of probability is not a character defect.

    I’m also aware that presidents care about their legacy, where President Obama’s most ardent supporters requested Mr. Obama champion two initiatives: indict the Bush Administration for torture and fight to legalize marijuana. This is in the context that other nations who signed the treaty on torture that President Reagan also signed supposedly have some power to indict President Obama for failing to prosecute the Bush Administration, where a prosecutor in Spain was toying with the idea a few years back.

    So there are a couple of premises supportive of my hope, but again, I knew the odds were low. Now that hope rests almost entirely on other nations, where I see their having little incentive to go after Misters Bush, Cheney, and Obama.

  • Olav

    Michael, you were indeed naïve to think the odds were low. The odds were non-existent, that’s what they were.

    Abandon all hope etc.

  • Michael Heath

    Olav writes:

    Abandon all hope etc.

    That seems as wise as being 100% certain about explanatory models where we can only make provisional conclusions, like scientific theories. I.e., it’s not (wise); in this case because there avenues other than the Obama presidency.

    And to further my complaint about James misrepresenting my prior post: The only way my already small hope could sink even further after President Obama invited President Bush to fly to SA would be for me to already realize Bush and Obama belong to a particularly exclusive club and its history of self-preservation.

    I’ve watched how Obama’s treated Bush during Obama’s entire tenure precisely because I want to see Bush and Cheney tried for torture. Obama’s always been respectful but until this trip, distant; unless I missed some events. That distance provided small hope; until this trip.

  • Olav


    in this case because there avenues other than the Obama presidency.

    Other avenues by way of which the scoundrels can be brought to justice, you mean? No, there aren’t any. It is not going to happen. Just forget it.

    They are getting away with murder, literally, and of course it is not fair. But what can be done?

  • Olav

    Oh, by the way, I don’t blame you for having been hopeful so long, of course. That is admirable. Hope springs eternal in the human breast.

  • colnago80

    There is nothing surprising here. In the movie, Judgement at Nuremberg, the character played by Werner Klemperer, as he is about to be sentenced, tells the character played by Spencer Tracy, “today you try us, tomorrow the Russians try you”. In this context, Obama is well aware that, if today he tries Bush and Cheney, tomorrow President Cruz or whatever Rethuglican eventually gets to the White House will try him (recall that the impeachment of Clinton was, in part, payback for the impeachment of Nixon).