US Senate report outlining CIA’s brutal ‘enhanced interrogation’ methods won’t see the light of day – for now
A U.S. federal judge has ruled that a sprawling Congressional report on the CIA’s terror warfare torture program will remain classified, saying citizens have no right to access the controversial document, parts of which have already leaked to the public by a Democratic senator in 2014.
In a ruling Thursday, District of Columbia Judge Beryl Howell said the report “is not considered a public document subject to the common law right of public access”, as a previous case concluded that it was a “congress record” and therefore could not be obtained through standard Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
“The report contains highly classified information about CIA detention and interrogation policies and procedures that would jeopardize national security if released, far exceeding the public interest in disclosure,” the judge wrote in his opinion.
Investigative journalist Shawn Musgrave sued over the document, arguing a “right to know” argument similar to those presented in FOIA litigation, but his case was ultimately dismissed. The journalist’s lawyer, Kel McClanahan, has pledged to appeal the decision.
The 6,700-page Senate report details the CIA’s clandestine detention and torture programs launched after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, during which countless foreign suspects were dragged into secret “black site” prisons in abroad and subjected to extreme and often barbaric interrogations. measures. Few of these cases have resulted in formal charges against the defendants, many of whom have apparently been detained at the agency’s discretion, far beyond the reach of the US criminal justice system or international laws of war.
An unclassified summary of the paper released by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein in 2014 presented 20 major findings, including that the CIA’s methods rarely helped acquire useful intelligence, that it repeatedly lied about the effectiveness of those methods, and that the agency’s interrogations were far more violent than intelligence officials had ever hinted to lawmakers. Some of the so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques were developed by expert psychologists to maximize the suffering inflicted on suspects, according to the summary, also concluding that the torture regime had tarnished America’s reputation around the world.
Commenting on Thursday’s decision, Senator Feinstein said that while she agreed with some aspects of the decision, “I also continue to believe that the full torture report – with appropriate redactions – should be released at some point.”
“The US government’s use of torture has been a dark mark in our history that must never be repeated. We must continue to learn from our mistakes, and that ultimately means releasing the torture report at the right time,” she added, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Although the massive report remains secret for the time being, former President Barack Obama placed the document in his presidential archives before he left the White House, which means that a copy is now kept in the National Archives and could be declassified by parts from 2029.