Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) blasted the Obama administration for helping the CIA cover-up its enhanced interrogation program during a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday morning. The outgoing Colorado senator publicized the contents of a classified CIA report that directly contradicts public statements the Agency has made about the Senate’s explosive analysis of the Bush-era techniques.
Following Tuesday’s release of a 600-page declassified summary, the CIA acknowledged that the agency “did not always live up to the high standards that we set for ourselves.” However, it insisted that “[o]ur review indicates that interrogations of detainees on whom EITs were used did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives.”
Udall contradicted that statement, arguing that a classified 2009 internal review conducted by former CIA Director Leon Panetta “directly refutes information in the Brennan response.”
“Director [John] Brennan and the CIA today are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture,” Udall said, reiterating his call on Brennan to resign. “In other words, the CIA is lying.”
In January of 2014, CIA officials accused the Intelligence Committee of improperly accessing the review and later admitted hacking into the Senate Intelligence Committee’s computers in a possible effort to intimidate committee staff working on the torture report. Democrats charged that the hacking was really an effort to strip the Panetta review from Senate computers. Udall disclosed the existence of the review last year.
In his speech, the Colorado senator revealed — for the first time — that the Panetta review confirmed the Senate’s conclusion that “the CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Congress, the president and the public on the efficacy of its coercive techniques.” Former Bush administration officials and the CIA have publicly disputed this claim.
In contrast to the CIA’s assertions, Panetta’s analysis also reveals, Udall said, “how detainees provided intelligence prior to the use of torture against them” and that the agency “tortured detainees before trying any other approach,” even when “less coercive methods were yielding intelligence.”
“The Panetta review further identifies cases in which the CIA used coercive techniques when it had no basis for determining whether a detainee had critical intelligence at all,” he went on. “In other words, CIA tortured detainees to confirm they didn’t have intelligence, not because they thought they did.”
Udall accused the Obama administration of failing to live up to the president’s promises of ending the Agency’s culture of using enhanced interrogation techniques. He called on him to “purge his administration of high-level officials who were instrumental to the development and running of this program,” declassify the Panetta review, the entire CIA torture report, and propose legislation that codifies his executive order prohibiting torture.
The White House withheld 9,400 documents from the committee, “released information only when forced to by a leak or by court order or by an oversight committee,” and dragged out the process of redacting sensitive materials in the report, Udall charged.
“If there’s no moral leadership from the White House helping the public understand that the CIA’s torture program wasn’t necessary and didn’t save lives or disrupt terrorist plots, then what’s to stop the next White House and CIA director from supporting torture?” he asked.