We Can Read

Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee releases its long-awaited report on the CIA’s use of torture as an interrogation technique after  the September 11 terror attacks. As usual with any report like this, there’s some things we know already, some things that we’ll find out and some things that will remain unknown to the general public.

The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency inlaid in the floor of the main lobby of the Original Headquarters Building. Photo by user:Duffman (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency inlaid in the floor of the main lobby of the Original Headquarters Building. Photo by user:Duffman (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What we know already.

The formal probe into the CIA’s program began in 2009, in the first of the Obama administration. It’s taken years for Senate investigators to review and analyze more than 6 million cables, memos and other records. The final report is more than 6,000 pages long, and has over 35,000 footnotes.

The Senate presented a draft of the report to the CIA in 2012. The agency then launched its own review of the report, and concluded that the Senate’s draft was marred by errors and unfair conclusions. The CIA drafted a response to be included with the report. The Senate then sent a draft to the Obama administration earlier this year for declassification. This started a battle between Congress and the CIA over how much should be included; the end result is a 600 page summary.

What we’ll learn over the next few days.

Some very damaging information, without a doubt. The military has put thousands of troops on alert ahead of the report’s release to protect Americans and U.S. facilities abroad in anticipation of possibly violent responses. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said; “There are some indications that . . . the release of the report could lead to a greater risk that is posed to U.S. facilities and individuals all around the world. So, the administration has taken the prudent steps to ensure that the proper security precautions are in place at U.S. facilities around the globe.”

It’s not only our government that’s worried, either. Human-rights investigators have found 54 countries cooperated in various ways with the CIA’s renditions, detentions and interrogations, and that the CIA had a network of prisons in such places as Poland, Thailand and Afghanistan. However, the summary isn’t very likely to name many of the cooperating foreign agencies.

Then, there’s the response from the Bush administration. Former president George W. Bush went on CNN on Sunday in support of the CIA’s rebuttal, which claims that contrary to the report which claims that the CIA misled the Bush administration and other officials about the program, the administration actively approved the actions. In an interview with Candy Crowley, Mr. Bush said; “We’re fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the C.I.A. serving on our behalf. These are patriots and whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base.”

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said in an interview yesterday that the CIA’s harsh interrogations were “absolutely, totally justified,” and dismissing allegations that the agency withheld information from the White House or inflated the value of its methods.

What will remain unknown.

Most of what the report actually says. We won’t know the foreign agencies named above. We’ll only receive the sanitized, cut down version that the CIA and the administration have determined is OK to release to the public.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Basically, everything. When Barack Obama first started running for President back in  2007, he pledged to have the most transparent and accountable administration in US history. And, in some respects, he’s fulfilled that promise. However, there’s been lots of times where this administration’s been anything but transparent, and this is one of them.

We the people paid the salaries of the CIA assets who overstepped legal and moral boundaries in interrogating people. We paid the salaries of the people investigating the matter. And, we pay the salaries of our members of Congress. Considering that we’re the ones who’ve paid for all of this, shouldn’t we have access to more of this information?

We can read.

We understand that there’s parts of this which can justifiably be withheld from the public for national security reasons. However, we find it hard to believe that out of the 6,000 pages of the report, a 600 page summary is all the information that can be made public. We call on the government to rethink their position, and release all of the report other than the parts that directly influence national security. We’re all adults; we don’t need the government to offer up polished summaries to us. We know how to read, after all…

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