Could Sen. Udall Cap His Career by Telling Us the Contents of Senate's Secret Torture Report?


Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) lost his seat to Rep. Cory Gardner, one of the new class of Republicans who helped take control of the Senate. Though Udall perhaps didn't run a very good campaign, he was a very strong voice on the Senate Intelligence Committee for trying to restrain the National Security Agency's surveillance tactics and pushing for greater transparency and protections of Americans' civil liberties from the security state.

As he prepares to leave office, there is one last powerful act many civil liberties activists are hoping he'll take. The Senate Intelligence Committee is currently locked in a struggle with both the CIA and the Obama administration about the release of the Senate's report on torture committed by the CIA during the war on terror under the Bush administration.  The release of the report has been delayed for ages. The current fight is over how much content from the report (or rather, the small party of the report that will be released) should be redacted.

What some folks want is for Udall, as essentially his last act as a senator, to read the contents of the torture report into the Senate record. Dan Froomkin at The Intercept contacted former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska for moral support. Gravel entered the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record back in 1971 before the Supreme Court lifted an injunction against press publication. Froomkin spoke to Gravel over the phone:

Gravel's recommendation: "What he'd have to do is call a subcommittee meeting like I did, late at night."

Back in 1971, Gravel first tried to read the Papers from the Senate floor. He even got himself rigged up with a colostomy bag so he wouldn't need to take breaks. But he was stymied by an unexpected procedural move.

So he moved to Plan B: He called a late-night subcommittee meeting with almost no notice to the other members.

Gravel read some of the Pentagon Papers out loud, but challenged by dyslexia and overcome with emotion, he finally opted for another way: "I asked for unanimous consent to put it in the record of the subcommittee. And there was no one there to object."

But things have changed a lot since then. Froomkin explored the current Senate rules and thinks that Udall could still pull the same trick even in this day and age. Read more here.