Today, 40 members of Congress sent a letter, supported by OTG and a coalition of human rights and accountability organizations, urging President Obama to direct federal agencies to immediately open and internally promulgate copies of the Senate’s investigation into the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program (a.k.a. “The Torture Report”). In order to “empower agencies to resist any and all efforts by the executive branch to reinstate torture’s use,” the letter calls on the President to “immediately disseminate that report, issue new guidelines of conduct, and reaffirm torture’s illegality before leaving office.”
The Congressional letter echoes the calls that OTG and our partners have made to the Administration to preserve the Torture Report – a document that is vital for government accountability. In April, OTG joined coalition letter urging the Archivist of the United States to ensure the preservation of the report, and sent a follow-up letter in May, after acknowledgment by the CIA inspector general’s office that it had “mistakenly” destroyed its only copy of the report. In a November coalition letter, OTG joined partners in calling on President Obama to direct senior staff in the intelligence community to read the report, and to encourage the National Archives to make a determination on whether the report is a federal record.
The President took an important step last month, on December 9th, by declaring the White House’s copy of the report would be preserved under the Presidential Records Act. Separately, on December 28th, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered the Report – along with the CIA’s response to the Report and all cited documents – to be preserved as part of a case involving a former CIA detainee.
As the letter highlights, there is more that needs to be done. Specifically, the letter notes that the Justice Department’s instructions to federal agencies to keep the report on CIA torture sealed and inaccessible remain in effect. In addition to asking for the White House to internally disseminate the report, the letter encourages the President to, at a minimum, declassify and release its table of contents.
Read the Congressional letter here.
The letter was also supported by: Amnesty International USA, Win Without War, Friends Committee on National Legislation, CREDO Action, Council for a Livable World, Demand Progress, Just Foreign Policy, American Friends Service Committee, Human Rights Watch, Peace Action, Our Revolution.