Is Obama Trying to Prevent Release of Torture Report

After belatedly and grudgingly agreeing to release the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Bush torture regime, President Obama has done everything possible to delay and obstruct that release. I think there’s a very good chance he’s doing this with the idea that once the GOP takes control of the Senate, it would rescind that release and bury it.

Before White House chief of staff Denis McDonough came to brief Senate Democrats on Thursday afternoon, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had a little pep talk with his flock. Every Tuesday, during the weekly caucus lunches, he said, you all gripe and moan about the White House. But then when the White House comes by, there’s never a peep.

The talk may not have been necessary. The White House’s briefing to Democrats on immigration Thursday erupted instead into a confrontation over the Senate’s classified torture report, Senate sources told The Huffington Post.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, waited for the immigration discussion to end and then pulled out a prepared speech that she read for five or six minutes, making the case for the release of the damning portrayal of America’s post-9/11 torture program.

“It was a vigorous, vigorous and open debate — one of the best and most thorough discussions I’ve been a part of while here,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who served as intelligence committee chair before Feinstein, was furious after the meeting, and accused the administration of deliberately stalling the report.

“It’s being slow-walked to death. They’re doing everything they can not to release it,” Rockefeller told HuffPost.

“It makes a lot of people who did really bad things look really bad, which is the only way not to repeat those mistakes in the future,” he continued. “The public has to know about it. They don’t want the public to know about it.”…

Time is becoming a critical issue with regard to the report, as Republicans prepare to take control of the Senate in January. At that time, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) will replace Feinstein as head of the intelligence committee.

“I’m concerned that there’s not a whole lot of sand left in this hourglass,” said Heinrich. “Until this report is unclassified in a way that doesn’t expose people’s identity, but where you can understand the narrative, our work will not be done. And we’re not there yet.”

Sound farfetched that a Democratic president would cooperate with Republicans in Congress to bury a damning report about the actions of a Republican president? It shouldn’t. Obama has been absolutely opposed to any action that even suggests accountability for torture from the moment he took office. He has refused to even allow for the possibility of criminal charges being filed and now he’s trying to keep the details away from the public. Why is he so zealous to protect his predecessor? There are several possibility, but you know what? I don’t really give a shit what they are. None could possibly justify it.

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  • colnago80

    Actually, there’s nothing complicated or mysterious about the attitude of the administration. To paraphrase the Werner Klemperer character in the movie Judgement at Nuremberg, today you try the Bush Administration, tomorrow the next Rethuglican administration tries you. See impeachment of Nixon, impeachment of Clinton.

  • outraged

    I suspect he also saw how much money the Clinton’s made by playing nice with the folks with money. Finger pointing is so messy, especially when a lot of the folks with money make their money in defense or intelligence. If he just puts in his time, he’ll be rewarded with lucrative speaking deals, book deals and he can be a regular talking head and have a foundation or two that he runs. He’s gonna phone it in from here on out just like he’s done from the start.

    Throw in the fact that Democratic voters don’t really hold their politicians accountable and you have a recipe for giving the R side of the aisle all the ammo anyway.

  • John Pieret

    Obama has been absolutely opposed to any action that even suggests accountability for torture from the moment he took office. He has refused to even allow for the possibility of criminal charges being filed …

    I’d give any politician a pass on not bringing charges against a former president and/or Vice President, much less turn them over to the International Court of Justice. The resulting political shitstorm would wreck any possibility of getting anything done during their administration. But there is no good reason for Obama to deep-six this report. It’s not his report and ultimately its release can’t hurt him now or his future on the rubber chicken circuit. The only possibility I can see is that he doesn’t want the new Republican congress looking too closely at his own war crimes.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    It’s nice that Obama can work with Republicans in something.

  • busterggi

    Anything can be justified if you just have faith. It may be illegal, unethical & immoral but its justified.

  • Artor

    John P. @3

    I don’t give Obama a pass on this. It is required by international treaties that we prosecute torture and turn perpetrators over to international courts. Almost the very first thing Obama did when taking office was to announce amnesty for BushCo torturers. He didn’t have and war crimes of his own yet, so if he was providing his administration cover, that implies that he was already contemplating drone strikes & extrajudicial executions. In any case, we’re now seen how well cooperating with the GOP has worked for him. He should have abandoned that tack long ago when it was clear it was less than useless.

  • John Pieret

    Artor:

    I’m not giving him a moral pass, only a political one. If he had started out his presidency by charging Bush/Cheney, there would have been such an uproar by the American public it’s doubtful he could have passed the ACA or been elected to a second term. Americans are nothing, if not reflexively pro-American.

  • LightningRose

    colnago80 @1,

    Perhaps you weren’t around at the time, but the Nixon impeachment was fully bi-partisan, with a defendant who was clearly guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

    Tricky Dicky finally resigned once it was clear that there were more than enough votes to convict him.

    There are absolutely *no* valid comparisons between the Nixon and Clinton impeachments.

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    Couldn’t an out-going Dem. Senator read the report on the Senate floor, protected by the Speech and Debate clause? Surely the report itself does not contain any treasonous material, so reading it would, likewise, not rise to treason or felony?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    LightningRose “There are absolutely *no* valid comparisons between the Nixon and Clinton impeachments.”

    Agreed. Clinton was worse. At least Nixon didn’t break in to the Watergate with his penis.

  • ambassadorfromverdammt

    @10 Modusoperandi

    You mean you don’t KNOW where the epithet ‘Tricky Dick’ really came from?

  • Doubting Thomas

    It begs the question, what does the CIA know about Obama that he does not want to come out? Doesn’t it?

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @John Pieret

    I’m not giving him a moral pass, only a political one. If he had started out his presidency by charging Bush/Cheney, there would have been such an uproar by the American public it’s doubtful he could have passed the ACA or been elected to a second term. Americans are nothing, if not reflexively pro-American.

    I do not think that aiding and abetting torture of prisoners of war is a price we should be willing to pay. Your moral argument effectively boils down to: “We should allow prisoners of war to be tortured so we can get better health care”. I find that argument to be morally abhorrent.

  • John Pieret

    EnlightenmentLiberal:

    You misunderstand what I am saying. I specifically said I wasn’t giving him a moral pass. What I was and am saying is I understand why a politician, who had just achieved the highest office in the land, would not want to wreck his time in office and endanger his reelection. I did not say that the ACA justified letting Bush off the hook, only that Obama would know that his ambition to reform healthcare in America would be lost if he went after Bush. In short, Obama is like every other politician.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @John Pieret

    You really need some better nuance. That still seems almost like a moral defense, rather than a clinical explanation of human behavior.

    So, do you agree that we should prosecute Obama, Bush, and anyone else involved? Note the War Crimes Act of 1996, which makes it a matter of purely US law without invoking treaty obligations.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Crimes_Act_of_1996

    It also makes it a death penalty offense if a person died from the torture.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    Couldn’t an out-going Dem. Senator read the report on the Senate floor, protected by the Speech and Debate clause? Surely the report itself does not contain any treasonous material, so reading it would, likewise, not rise to treason or felony?

    IIRC, the constitution itself guarantees that no one shall be held liable for anything they say during a session of congress. Look it up. Doesn’t matter what it contains – the guy would be legally protected.

  • John Pieret

    EnlightenmentLiberal:

    So, do you agree that we should prosecute Obama, Bush, and anyone else involved?

    Should we do it? Of course, it is the law*. Will we do it? Highly unlikely. Do you know of any politician out there with any sort of chance of becoming president who is likely to do it, even against the Republicans’ favorite punching bag, Obama (with the likelihood that Bush/Cheney would also have to be prosecuted)?

    __________________________________________________

    * Just as a technical matter, treaties are a higher form of law, second only to the Constitution, than a domestic law. There may be less “prosecutorial discretion” in enforcing treaties … if we bother to enforce them at all.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    John Pieret

    Yep.

    In public policy debate, such as this one, it’s customary to assume some degree of fiat power. Perhaps I’m over some ill-defined bounds, but I know of no better way to change the world into the one I want to live in than to engage in public debate like this one, so that maybe some day it won’t be so ridiculous to ask that people who torture people be thrown out of the white house (and wherever Bush is now) and into jail.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eo.raptor.3 eoraptor

    ambassadorfromverdammt @11

    I thought I’d seen everything until I saw somebody over-top Modus! I’m looking out the window now to see if there are four horsemen galloping down the street.

    One internets to the ambassador.