04.10.14

Forty Members, Led by Rep. Schiff, Urge President to Quickly Declassify Senate Report on CIA Interrogation Program

Washington, DC –Today, 40 Members of Congress, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), sent a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to quickly declassify the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report's conclusions on the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program, as well as the dissenting views and CIA response to the report.  The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last week voted to declassify the committee’s report by a vote of 11-3, and the timeliness of its release will depend on the White House. 

In the letter, the Members write: “Together we stand, as we know you do, for the proposition that our nation should set an example for the world in humane treatment of detainees and abiding by the rule of law. Part of that commitment means acknowledging times when we failed to live up to our values and our laws, even when doing so is uncomfortable. We urge you to take this opportunity to cast some new light on a dark period in our history. The sooner the summary of the report and its findings are made public in their entirety, the sooner we can move on from this unfortunate chapter in our history.”

The letter was signed by Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Luis Guttierez (D-IL), Ed Pastor (D-AZ), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Alan Grayson (D-FL), Hank Johnson (D-GA), David Price (D-NC), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Michael Honda (D-CA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Donna Edwards (D-MD), John Garamendi (D-CA), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), George Miller (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Sam Farr (D-CA), William Enyart (D-IL), Loyd Doggett (D-TX), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), James McGovern (D-MA), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), John Yarmuth (D-CA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and James Moran (D-VA).

The full letter is below:

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing in reference to the vote on April 3rd by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) to send the executive summary of its committee report on enhanced interrogations to your Administration for declassification review. We respectfully urge you to order the declassification of the report’s executive summary and findings expeditiously and in their entirety. The American people need and deserve a full account of the actions that were taken in their name through the use of torture and enhanced interrogations on detainees. As you have said publicly, the report must be declassified “so that the American people can understand what happened in the past.”

The report is a product of a thorough and professional investigation by committee staff, marking the culmination of five years of painstaking work. Committee staff examined millions of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents to reconstruct a detailed history of the origins and practice of the enhanced interrogation program. According to Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Committee found that the "interrogations and the conditions of confinement at the CIA detention sites were far different and far more harsh than the way the CIA had described them to us.” It’s clear that years after the enhanced interrogation program ended, the American people and even the vast majority of Members of Congress remain in the dark.

The analysis reportedly found that Members of Congress, including those on the Intelligence Committees, were misled about the nature of the techniques used on detainees and their effectiveness in obtaining useful intelligence, if accurate, is extremely troubling. Congress cannot perform its constitutionally-mandated oversight role if it doesn’t receive accurate and timely information from the Executive Branch, including from elements of the Intelligence Community. It is vital that Congress receive a full accounting of any discrepancies in what we were told with regard to detainee treatment and the intelligence gathered and what actually took place.

The Senate Committee also voted to declassify dissenting views filed by members of the Minority. We ask that these views, as well as a CIA response to the report, be quickly declassified as well, so that the public can have both perspectives on the legality and effectiveness of the enhanced interrogation program.

Together we stand, as we know you do, for the proposition that our nation should set an example for the world in humane treatment of detainees and abiding by the rule of law. Part of that commitment means acknowledging times when we failed to live up to our values and our laws, even when doing so is uncomfortable. We urge you to take this opportunity to cast some new light on a dark period in our history. The sooner the summary of the report and its findings are made public in their entirety, the sooner we can move on from this unfortunate chapter in our history.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Sincerely,