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Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States - Review of Report on CIA's Detention, Interrogation Program

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, urged President Obama today to ensure the administration's response to the committee's extensive 6,000-page report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program represents an administration-wide effort to begin a constructive dialogue about lessons learned. The letter also highlights concerns about media reports that the CIA will vigorously dispute the study's findings.

Udall's letter follows comments last week from Vice President Joe Biden supporting the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report and calling for the report to be declassified and released publicly.

"In 2009, you made it clear that the CIA's detention and interrogation program and its 'enhanced interrogation techniques' had no place in an Obama administration. I deeply appreciate your stand on these important issues," Udall wrote in a letter. "I also applaud the recent comments of Vice President Biden about the need to 'excise the demons' and acknowledge what was done under the CIA's detention and interrogation program. Only by acknowledging and correcting the false public record can the CIA -- with your support -- credibly institute the necessary reforms that are essential for the CIA to be its best. I strongly believe -- and trust that you agree -- that publicly acknowledging the truth of this program, regardless how uncomfortable, is necessary, consistent with our country's history and ideals, and in the long-term interests of the CIA and the American people."

A strong advocate for Americans' constitutional liberties and government transparency, Udall led the push during CIA Director John Brennan's confirmation hearing in pressing the then-nominee to commit to declassifying the committee's report and correcting the public record on the effectiveness of the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques and detention measures. He called Brennan's Senate confirmation in March "only the beginning" of this effort.

Udall also has criticized statements made by former Bush administration officials on the effectiveness of the detention and interrogation program. Last week, Udall decried a video presentation to be shown at the new George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum that leaves the false impression that the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques resulted in intelligence that prevented terrorist attacks in the United States.

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write with regard to the report recently completed by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the CIA's former detention and interrogation program.

I know you believe in the importance of correcting the public record if it is determined that inaccurate information has been conveyed to the American people by the U.S. government. In the case of the CIA's detention and interrogation program, inaccurate and misleading information was conveyed by the CIA to the public, the Congress, the Department of Justice, the Department of State -- and to the White House itself.

I know this is true as a result of the 6,000-page report produced by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, based on a documentary review of over six million pages of CIA and other records. As you are aware, the Committee voted in December to report out the Study and to send it to the CIA, other Executive Branch agencies, and the White House for review and comments. The comments were due to the Committee on February 15, 2013. As of today, no comments have been received.

Meanwhile, there have been media reports that the CIA is planning an "aggressive response" and is objecting to a "majority" of the Committee's Study. While I find these reports hard to believe, I am concerned that despite my request -- and requests from Chairman Feinstein and other colleagues on the Committee -- Director Brennan and his staff have shown little to no interest in engaging collaboratively and constructively with the Committee on a path forward on the Committee's Study. In fact, despite repeated requests by Members, the CIA has declined to meet or discuss the Study with Committee staff.

It is my understanding that the comments from your administration will reflect not only the views of the CIA, but also other Executive Branch agencies impacted by the CIA's detention and interrogation program. I believe the views of other government agencies and the White House are absolutely essential in order to engage in a constructive, lessons-learned dialogue.

In 2009, you made it clear that the CIA's detention and interrogation program and its "enhanced interrogation techniques" had no place in an Obama administration. I deeply appreciate your stand on these important issues. I also applaud the recent comments of Vice President Biden about the need to "excise the demons" and acknowledge what was done under the CIA's detention and interrogation program. Only by acknowledging and correcting the false public record can the CIA -- with your support -- credibly institute the necessary reforms that are essential for the CIA to be its best. I strongly believe -- and trust that you agree -- that publicly acknowledging the truth of this program, regardless of how uncomfortable, is necessary, consistent with our country's history and ideals, and in the long-term interests of the CIA and the American people.

Sincerely,


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