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CIA Torture Report: Where’s Our Next Heroic Whistleblower?

In December of 2014, The US Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence issued a report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s “inadequate and deeply flawed” interrogation techniques, concluding that those practices were “not effective” and that they were “far more brutal” than the public — or Congress — had been led to believe.

The document is commonly referred to as “the CIA torture report” for obvious. Among other atrocities, it describes a detainee being chained naked to a concrete floor until he died of hypothermia, and other detainees being subject to “rectal feeding.”

Or, rather, it supposedly describes such things. The public has never seen the actual report, only summaries and excerpts.

In a rare act of legislative heroism, US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), whose record of being wrong on the issues comes close to perfection over her 25 years in the Senate, had the report distributed to various executive branch agencies so that it would eventually be revealed through the Freedom of Information Act.

But now the Trump administration is moving to prevent that. US Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), the Select Committee’s chair, has requested the return of all extant copies of the report to the Senate (which is exempt from FOIA) and the administration is complying with that request.

What do the CIA, the US Senate, and the White House have to hide? My guess is quite a bit.

Should they be allowed to hide those things from the taxpayers who pay the bills and whose lives are put at risk by the criminal acts of the US intelligence community? Absolutely not.

Will they get away with hiding it? Not forever. The days of governments being able to permanently bury secrets are over, thanks to heroes like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and the folks at WikiLeaks.

It’s a near certainty that several executive branch employees put copies of the report away for safe-keeping precisely to safeguard the public interest in a situation such as this.

In fact, we may now see the report sooner than we otherwise would have. A civil servant who was content to let the FOIA process run its course, if it was allowed to, may treat this development as a trigger event for showing us what our government is hiding from us.

Good. Trump, Burr, and the CIA are cats covering up their output in the litter box. Time for someone responsible to clean up — with, pun intended, a scoop.

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Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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