To: President Donald Trump and The United States Senate
Senate: Declassify the CIA Torture Report
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The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (the Senate Intelligence Committee) should invoke its powers under Section 8 of Senate Resolution 400 to declassify the committee’s report on the interrogation and detention practices of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and to declassify the CIA’s internal review corroborating the committee’s report.
The full Senate should back the Senate Intelligence Committee in invoking its power to declassify the CIA torture report and other wrongfully classified documents that the public has a right to see.
The Obama Administration should expedite the declassification of the committee’s report and the CIA’s internal review.
Why is this important?
Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein has publicly accused the CIA of spying on her committee, thereby violating the law and the Constitution and calling into question the Senate Intelligence Committee’s ability to perform its responsibility to conduct effective oversight of the CIA. (1)
Behind the dispute over CIA spying is a dispute over the classification of two key documents: the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s use of torture during the Bush Administration, and an internal CIA review that corroborated the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report’s criticism while the CIA was officially telling the Senate Intelligence Committee that its report’s criticisms were wrong. (2)
Under Section 8 of Senate Resolution 400 – the resolution that established the Senate committee in 1976, after the Church Committee’s investigation of abuses by U.S. intelligence agencies - the Senate Intelligence Committee has the power to declassify documents if it determines that is in the public interest, without the approval of the executive branch. If the executive branch objects, under the provisions of Section 8, the declassification can be approved by the full Senate. (3)
Urge the Senate Intelligence Committee and the full Senate to move to declassify the committee’s report on CIA torture and the CIA’s internal review, and urge the Obama Administration to fully cooperate, by signing and sharing our petition.
1. “Feinstein: CIA may have violated Constitution with monitoring of Senate staffers,” Ali Watkins, Jonathan S. Landay, and Marisa Taylor, McClatchy News, March 11, 2014, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/03/11/220849/feinstein-defends-senate-intel.html
2. “Letter to President Obama on CIA Spying on Congress,” Project on Government Oversight et al, March 12, 2014,
3. “Wyden: Intel committee used provision once to release classified info,” Steve Benham, KATU.com, Oct 23, 2013, http://www.katu.com/politics/With-power-to-disclose-classified-info-intel-committee-invokes-it-only-once-ron-wyden-228554661.html. 1976 S.Res. 400 is contained as Appendix A in this document: http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/pdfs/94_comm_prt.pdf