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Udall Promises Strong Oversight Over New Drone Policy, Supports Closure of Guantanamo Bay Facility


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Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement following the president's national security policy speech today at the National Defense University:

"I commend the president for his effort to define the boundaries of U.S. counterterrorism operations and for stating a commitment to increased accountability. In acknowledging the U.S. citizens targeted in these operations and in outlining standards for lethal action, he has shown responsiveness to concerns about a lack of transparency in the 'war on terror.' While this is helpful and important, more needs to be done.

"In addition, the president referred to new policy guidance he has signed establishing a framework that governs the U.S. use of force against terrorists. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I will be reviewing this guidance carefully to ensure that it keeps with our values as a nation.

"I am pleased that President Obama specifically acknowledged that the CIA's detention and interrogation program 'compromised our basic values,' but I am disappointed he did not mention the importance of declassifying the Senate Intelligence Committee's 6,000-page study reviewing that program.

"The CIA's program and the prosecution of the post-9/11 'war on terror' led to many of the problems we see today at Guantanamo Bay, which the president correctly notes 'has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law.' I applaud President Obama's renewed call to close this facility. This will not be easy -- the lack of an actionable plan to close Guantanamo is the reason that many in Congress have been reluctant to support transfers of detainees. But I pledge to work with the president to come up with a comprehensive plan that will enable this country to move beyond Guantanamo and all that it represents."

A strong advocate for Americans' constitutional liberties and government transparency, Udall has led the push for the president and his administration to correct the record on the CIA's detention and interrogation program and declassify the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's extensive 6,000-page report on the program.

Udall also 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. Recently, 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.

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