In a matter of weeks, the public could finally have access to information the CIA has been trying to keep secret for years. That is, unless the CIA decides otherwise.
The summary of a Senate report documenting the CIA's use of torture is now with the Executive Branch for declassification. We have been told that the report provides the most detailed account yet of what the CIA did to detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantánamo, and the CIA's secret prisons overseas.
But while President Obama has authority to decide how much the public gets to see, he has given the CIA the lead on redacting the summary report.
It's hard to overstate how wrong that is. The agency charged with brutally torturing prisoners, lying about it to every oversight mechanism, and spying on the Senate committee charged with investigating it – that same agency is getting to decide which information about its illegal conduct will be released to the public?
Here's what we might be left with if the CIA redacts the torture report:
Redaction, when undertaken responsibly, keeps legitimate national security information secret. But not only have we been fooled too many times by the CIA to trust that it will redact responsibly, it flies in the face of transparency, oversight, and basic common sense to allow the torturers to dictate the terms of the conversation we're going to have about torture.
Earlier this month, Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council said:
Having prohibited these practices upon taking office, the President believes that bringing this program into the light will help the American people understand what happened in the past and can help guide us as we move forward, so that no Administration contemplates such a program in the future.
We couldn't have said it better ourselves. If you agree, join our call to President Obama to take the report out of CIA hands and into the light.