Groups to President Obama: Stop Ignoring the Torture Report

On January 28, OpenTheGovernment.org and 8 other groups wrote to President Obama, asking his administration to stop ignoring the nearly 7000-page torture report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and reject Senator Richard Burr’s unprecedented request for the report’s return. The letter states in part:

On December 9, then-Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein filed with the Senate the final version of the Committee’s 6,963-page report on the CIA’s former detention and interrogation program.  She sent the full report to you and to the heads of relevant executive branch agencies the next day.  It is clear from its declassified executive summary that the full report details significant institutional and operational failures, across multiple executive branch agencies, which resulted in gruesome human rights violations.  Senator Feinstein explicitly reiterated her intent to make the full report available throughout the executive branch, as appropriate, “to help make sure that this experience is never repeated.” 

Yet, according to the government’s most recent court filing in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking public access to the full report, when the Justice Department, State Department, Defense Department and CIA received their respective copies, each immediately locked it away and virtually none has made meaningful use of it since.  “Neither DOJ nor DOS, moreover, has even opened the package with the [compact disc] containing the full Report.  And CIA and DoD have carefully limited access to and made only very limited use of the report.”  The State Department went so far as to mark the envelope containing the report “Congressional Record – Do Not Open, Do Not Access.”  The FBI has not even retrieved its copy, which was sent to the Justice Department, much less reviewed it.  

Whether these actions are motivated by indifference or an attempt to circumvent the public’s access to the full report under the Freedom of Information Act, they are unacceptable.

The full letter is available here.

In a related development, the ACLU has filed an emergency motion in its Freedom of Information Act case for the full torture report, arguing that it would be unlawful for the Executive Branch to deprive a court of jurisdiction by sending the report back to the intelligence committee.

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