U.S. Senate

GOP Senate Intelligence Chair Thinks His Job is To Help The CIA Bury Its War Crimes

One of the last things Dianne Feinstein did as Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee was to release a redacted 660 page executive summary of the Committee’s 6,000 page report on the CIA’s involvement in the Bush era torture program.  Republicans used every trick in the book to prevent an investigation.  When that failed, they refused to participate in the investigation then whined that that the Committee’s findings were “partisan.”  Republicans and the CIA did everything they could think of to prevent release even of the heavily redacted executive summary.  When that failed, Republicans trotted out the same false claims they have been making for years. Torture isn’t torture and besides it works.

Aside from discrediting claims that reliable information was acquired as a result of torture, the Committee accused former CIA Director Michael Hayden of lying to the Committee about prisoners’ deaths, threats against members of the detainees’ families and the reliability of information the CIA got through torture.

Now that Republicans have control of the Senate and with it the Senate Intelligence Committee, they are trying to bury the committee’s entire report on the CIA’s participation in the Bush/Cheney torture program.

Jason Leopold of Vice News reports that Senator Burr sent a letter to the White House last week demanding that it return all copies of the entire report. Senator Richard Burr also intends to return Leon Panetta’s scathing review of the CIA’s false statements regarding the “effectiveness” of torture to the agency.  That report never was released to the public because the CIA blocked FOIA requests. According to lawmakers who have seen the Panetta report, it backs up the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report.

Of course, Burr wants to make sure the public never sees the Panetta report and that we the people never see more of the dirty little secrets contained in the body of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s use of torture.

Burr claims his desire to hide the truth about the CIA’s use of torture is because the information is so sensitive, and besides no one should have seen the Panetta report because it would blow the lid open on the war crimes that were done in our name.

As Connor Fridersdorf of The Atlantic pointed out, Burr is confused about his role as Chair of the Intelligence Committee.  While he is supposed to keep tabs on the agency, Burr is behaving more like one of its assets as he tries to bury the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report and the Panetta Report.

Burr told the Huffington Post. “At some point, we will probably send it back to where it came from.” On its face, the explanation makes no sense. Why would Burr speak as if the intentions of the CIA are dispositive? His job is to oversee the spy agency, not to respect its desire for privacy. What could be more antithetical to the proper posture of an overseer? (As if a bureaucracy would intentionally turn over evidence of its own abuses.)

The Senate intelligence committee ought to thirst for every drop of information it can get as it polices a secretive spy agency with a long history of hiding illegal acts. No overseer can credibly deny the value of a report showing how overseers were misled.

Regardless of our party preferences or whether or not we accept that what the CIA did was torture and torture is a war crime, Burr’s conduct should concern us all.

Image: Al Jazeera America


Adalia Woodbury

Former contributor.

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