Obama Administration

White House Has Its Own Way of Screwing with Senate Torture Probe – Ignoring It

Refuses to hand over some paperwork for report

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The audacity of it …
Credit: Scott Beale / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Yesterday, when White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked about the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA accusing essentially accusing each other of illegal hacking* he made it clear that the White House knew what was going on but was staying out of the fight. Given that the White House is the head of the executive branch, their attempt to try to be a neutral party in this scandal is an odd, possibly untenable choice (or cynically, yet another way for this administration from having to hold anybody accountable for anything).

As reporters from McClatchy's Washington bureau explain, though, the White House is assuredly not a neutral party in this fight over the Senate Intelligence Committee's effort to independently probe the details of the CIA's detention and torture techniques under the Bush administration. The way the White House is interfering with the probe is very simple – they're just flat out refusing to give the Senate committee some of the info it's asking for:

The White House has been withholding for five years more than 9,000 top-secret documents sought by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for its investigation into the now-defunct CIA detention and interrogation program, even though President Barack Obama hasn't exercised a claim of executive privilege.

In contrast to public assertions that it supports the committee's work, the White House has ignored or rejected offers in multiple meetings and in letters to find ways for the committee to review the records, a McClatchy investigation has found.

The significance of the materials couldn't be learned. But the administration's refusal to turn them over or to agree to any compromise raises questions about what they would reveal about the CIA's use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists in secret overseas prisons.

The White House responded to McClatchy's inquiries that the pages withheld raise issues of "executive branch confidentiality interests," but McClatchy notes the president hasn't formally claimed the documents are exempt due to executive privilege. They are nevertheless refusing to hand them over. Read McClatchy's investigation here.  

* Simplified explanation for the sake of brevity. Read all the complicated details here.