Udall Heralds Historic Vote to Declassify Senate Intelligence Committee Study of CIA's Detention, Interrogation Program
Udall Pledges to Fight to Ensure White House, CIA Do Not Stymie Public Release of Landmark Study
Mark Udall, a leading advocate for Congress's duty to provide strong and independent oversight of covert agencies, heralded the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's bipartisan 11-3 vote today to declassify its landmark study of the CIA's detention and interrogation program. Udall, who serves on the committee and has led the effort to declassify the Senate Intelligence Committee's study, pledged to press the White House and CIA for the fullest possible declassification of the committee’s report.
"Today's vote is a historic moment for the Senate Intelligence Committee and our vigorous oversight efforts. I am calling on the president today to oversee the declassification process to ensure that as much of this important document as possible sees the light of day," Udall said. "The Constitution is clear and Coloradans agree that the Senate Intelligence Committee has a responsibility to oversee the CIA — regardless of who is president — and provide a full and accurate accounting of the operation and effectiveness of this misguided and destructive program.
"The public release of this study is critical to shedding light on this dark chapter of our country's history. It is also critical to restoring the credibility and integrity of the CIA as an institution. Anyone who dismisses this study for its focus on actions of the past need only look at the events of the past few months — in particular, the CIA's unauthorized search of the committee's computers — to understand that the CIA not only hasn't learned from its mistakes, but continues to perpetuate them. This study should impart crucial lessons to the CIA about the need to better operate and assess its programs and to accurately represent them. Acknowledging the detention and interrogation program's flaws is essential for the CIA's long-term institutional integrity, as well as for the legitimacy of ongoing sensitive programs. The findings of this report directly relate to how other CIA programs are managed today.
"To those who continue to argue that torture is effective, this study makes a powerful argument to the contrary — drawing from six million of the CIA's own records and past interview reports of key personnel to do so. I hope that one of the key lessons that the CIA and our national security leaders take from this study is that we should never again torture in the name of national security — and that oversight of intelligence operations is essential in a constitutional democracy."
Udall, who has repeatedly pressed the White House to publicly commit to declassifying the Senate Intelligence Committee's study, further urged the White House to ensure the CIA does not oversee the declassification of the study.
"Following today's historic vote, the president faces what I believe should be a straightforward question. He can defer declassification decisions to the CIA — which has demonstrated an inability to face the truth about this program — or pass this authority to the Director of National Intelligence or hold on to the redaction pen himself," Udall added. "The president needs to understand that the CIA's clear conflict of interest here requires that the White House step in and manage this process."