Most Transparent Administration Ever Begging to Stop Release of Senate Torture Report


Guys, you're just giving them another reason to never release the report.
Credit: Fibonacci Blue / photo on flickr

The Senate Intelligence Committee's extremely long, extremely embattled effort to produce a report describing the methods and impact of the federal government's use of torture during the Iraq War is supposed to be reaching an end. Beltway rumors were that the part of the report intended for public review, a 600-page executive summary, was supposed to be released next week.

But that's not going to happen if the Obama administration has its way. Secretary of State John Kerry has been deployed to beg Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to continue delaying the report's release, despite the administration's official public support. The information comes from Josh Rogin at Bloomberg View:

Kerry was not going rogue — his call came after an interagency process that decided the release of the report early next week, as Feinstein had been planning,  could complicate relationships with foreign countries at a sensitive time and posed an unacceptable risk to U.S. personnel and facilities abroad.  Kerry told Feinstein he still supports releasing the report, just not right now.

"What he raised was timing of report release, because a lot is going on in the world—including parts of the world particularly implicated—and wanting to make sure foreign policy implications were being appropriately factored into timing," an administration official told me.  "He had a responsibility to do so because this isn't just an intel issue—it's a foreign policy issue."

But those concerns are not new, and Kerry's 11th-hour effort to secure a delay in the report's release places Feinstein in a difficult position: She must decide whether to set aside the administration's concerns and accept the risk, or scuttle the roll-out of the investigation she fought for years to preserve.

Remember, Feinstein will not be head of the intel committee for much longer. She's losing her leadership as of next week thanks to the results of the November election that will bring in a Republican Senate. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) will be taking over as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and he's openly critical of Feinstein's hindsight-oriented leadership and is not a fan of transparency. If Feinstein agrees with the administration's request it could potentially result in the torture report's release being delayed for years. Or you know, forever, since there will never be a time where "foreign policy implications" will not be a factor in the release of a report about the United States torturing the citizens of other countries to get information.

Read more about the wrangling about the report from Rogin here and how the CIA engaged in illegal surveillance on Senate staffers while they were putting together the report here. And then think for a minute about the administration is trying to turn its own party's loss in the midterms as a way to be less transparent to the American people about what the government has done in their name.

UPDATE: According to a tweet from Shawna Thomas at NBC, the State Department is denying trying to delay the report's release.

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  1. IF this report just made Bush look bad, the Obama administration would have leaked it years ago. So, clearly it makes the Obama Administration looks bad as well. Why does Feinstein, a Democrat, want to release a report that a Democratic Administration wants to suppress out of concerns that it will make them look bad? And make not mistake, the only reason the Obama Administration won’t release this is because it will make them look bad. How things make them look is all they care about.

    Is this Feinstein and the other Senate Democrats finally turning on Obama? Is this a “fuck you and thanks for nothing” present to Obama for the midterms?

  2. Kerry told Feinstein he still supports releasing the report, just not right now.

    He wants to wait until we’re not in a state of war.

    1. something something we’ve always been at war with Eastasia

    2. “Just as soon as the war on terror is over, you can release it. I promise.”

  3. If the Obama Administration had practical reasons to want this report not to be released like it would embarrass our allies or cause us diplomatic problems, I can’t believe that Feinstein wouldn’t go along. She is still a Democrat and has every reason to want the Obama administration to succeed and may even actually care about the country as a whole. So whatever Obama’s reasons, they clearly are not legitimate.

    So why doesn’t Obama want it released and why isn’t Feinstein playing ball? Has Feinstein turned against Obama? Or maybe Obama can’t tell her hte reasons because they relate to the intel community threatening to release some facts about them if this report is made public?

    1. Obama has two years left — I assume she plans to be around longer than that? Holy crap, I just looked her up — she’s 81.

      1. yeah, she’s 81 and with the Repubs taking over, she’ll lose most of her power over her subcommittee. She’s has several incentives to release this report.

        1. What is the upside for her to release it Jep? What does she gain?

          1. Perhaps something of a legacy – besides being an old codger.

            She got legitimately upset that her subcommittee was being spied on. Even if you, and we, don’t agree with her motives or her methods, she does have issues she cares about. The torture report seems to be one of them.

            If she had a long political career ahead of her, towing the party line might carry more weight. I think she might be in a position where sacrificing an issue she cares about in order to protect party interests doesn’t seem that appealing any more.

      2. The Democrats literally have no young, rising political stars. All of the nationally known Democrats are well over 60 and in many cases older.

        1. What, Chelsea Clinton doesn’t impress you?

          1. You mean Webster Hubbell’s kid?


  4. Perhaps this administration is transparent under gamma-ray wavelengths. I certainly find it completely opaque in the visible range.

    1. Maybe we have found something that can stop neutrinos.

  5. I think that’s the first time I have ever encountered the phrase “600-page executive summary”. They’re probably not releasing it because the weight could cause a shift in the earth’s rotation.

    1. We can’t release it, its being used to counter-balance Guam.

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