The Only Way We’ll Really Learn About The CIA’s Torture Program Is If Someone Leaks The Report
By Mike Masnick, www.techdirt.com
Last week, we noted that the Senate Intelligence Committee had voted to declassify a small part of its $40 million, 6,300-page report that apparently details how the CIA’s torture program exceeded granted authorities was totally useless in gathering intelligence and resulted in the CIA lying to Congress. Of course, even with the declassification vote, it’s only been agreed to declassify the 480-page executive summary and major findings, leaving the vast majority of the paper in secret. Furthermore, that executive summary is now going to go through months of an intensive “declassification process,” which appears to involve letting the CIA itself take giant black markers to redact all the bits it doesn’t like.
As we mentioned last week, VP Joe Biden (himself) had argued for releasing the document by highlighting the importance of being open and admitting to the horrific mistakes that were made:
“I think the only way you exorcise the demons is you acknowledge, you acknowledge exactly what happened straightforward,” Biden said. “The single best thing that ever happened to Germany were the war crimes tribunals, because it forced Germany to come to its milk about what in fact has happened.”
Except that’s not what’s happening. We’re not going to get true acknowledgement of what happened in a straightforward way. We’re not going to have real openness about it. We’re going to have a tiny portion of a report that is redacted by the very organization accused of potential crimes against humanity and then covering it up. And that’s why folks like Trevor Timm are arguing that if we’re ever going to truly confront what our own nation did, someone needs to leak the entire report. Yes, there have been a variety of leaks about what’s in the report to the press, but without the full story we can’t, as Biden himself has said, “acknowledge exactly what happened straightforward.”
It’s possible the only way the public will ever get to see the entire landmark report is the same way we’ve learned everything we know about it: if someone leaks it.
Leaks have been critical to the public knowledge of Bush-era torture since the first hints of Abu-Ghraib, and as longtime torture investigator Katherine Hawkins noted, “The Senate report would likely never have existed … if it were not for previous investigations by journalists and nongovernmental organizations.”
Of course, leaking such a report would likely then lead to yet another round of President Obama’s war on whistleblowers, in which administration officials go around reminding everyone that leaks are akin to terrorism, and leakers get charged under the Espionage Act, which was designed to be used against spies selling us out to foreign governments, not whistleblowers informing the public.