Monday, November 24, 2014

Martin Heinrich and The Torture Report - Update

Update on the struggle by Martin Heinrich and other Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats to force the release of the committee's long ago completed 6,000 page report on Bush era CIA torture, which the Obama Administration is trying to bury. At a weekly briefing of senate Democrats by White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, a heated discussion about the report took place, according to Huffington Post, which relates Heinrich's addition to the discussion:

“I’m concerned that there’s not a whole lot of sand left in this hourglass,” said Heinrich. "Until this report is unclassified in a way that doesn't expose people's identity, but where you can understand the narrative, our work will not be done. And we're not there yet."

Heinrich, a member of the intelligence committee, compared the report to a story, arguing that it is impossible to follow without aliases or pseudonyms to guide a reader.

"If you take all the names out of a novel, it becomes very hard to understand that novel's narrative arc," he said. "We don't need people's real names, but we need to understand why decisions were made, what decisions were made and what the ramifications are."

Heinrich's "sand left in the hourglass" reference is to the widely held belief that the Obama Administration is delaying the report's release until Republicans hold the Senate majority in January, on the expectation they will not want the report released. Later in the article Heinrich is quoted dismissing a CIA spokesman's contention that releasing the report with psuedonyms would reveal peoples' identities.

I routinely criticize New Mexico's Democrats for doing very little to stand up for us on any front, but here's one example at least of one of them doing something that got in the papers. Heinrich had earlier spoken publicly about the delay in the report's release (blog posts here and here.)

Democrats are considering other ways to get the report released, Huffington Post says, including reading it into the senate record. Some of the comments Democrats make almost sound like veiled threats to leak the report or significant parts of it.

As Heinrich alludes to, the report would be a valuable and needed addition to the public debate. Republicans are frequently provided with platforms to deny that the US government has ever tortured anybody and at the same time to argue that it was necessary to protect Americans from the non existent threats the media and the political establishment are constantly conjuring up. The report's release would be a first step in the needed reckoning Americans have to make with the incredible amount of violence their government has unleashed all across the Middle East since 9/11.

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