Senate Resolution 400 and the Torture Report


Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

Since the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted in April of this year to declassify its long-awaited Torture Report, the intelligence agencies have been working behind the scenes to convince the Executive Branch to further sanitize it or keep it entirely secret.  Needless to say, the declassification process used to prepare the report for public consumption has been dragging on.  With the CIA and other defense agencies working overtime to keep a lid on the report, the truth may never reach the public.

What can Congress do to make sure that its report gets declassified and distributed to the public if the President agrees with the intelligence agencies and does not order the release?

Back in 1976, Congress created a procedure that would allow it to declassify documents on its own. This measure which also created the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, would allow Congress to declassify the report after a procedure that has never been fully used before.

“This is where Resolution 400 potentially comes into play. When the Senate passed that resolution in 1976, creating the Select Committee on Intelligence, it gave itself the extraordinary power to declassify information without the president’s approval — albeit with considerable exertion.

Basically, in order to invoke that provision successfully, the intel committee, chaired by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, would first have to vote to bring the report before a rare closed session of the full Senate. If the president didn’t object in writing within five days, the full Senate would then weigh the report in closed session and vote on whether to unilaterally declassify it.

Senators have gone through the initial process of invoking Resolution 400 in the past, the last time during George W. Bush’s second term, but it’s generally been considered a way of getting the president’s attention rather than a realistic option. That’s probably the main reason it’s being trotted out now, too. No doubt some senators were willing to talk with me about it openly this week because they’re trying to pressure the White House.” Yahoo News

Whether Resolution 400 is merely being talked about for the purpose of pressuring the President and the Executive Branch or if the Senators are serious about invoking it, the result could be a major step in Congress reining in what some consider the Executive Branch running roughshod over Congress.  The Torture Report’s contents have been kept secret, but the little that we do know about it is that it is very critical of the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon has been especially critical of the process to declassify the report.  He has gone on record stating that he won’t hesitate to push for the use of Resolution 400 if the report is delayed further or cleansed of important disclosures.

“But there’s also a growing sense among senators that, if Obama doesn’t disclose the summary more or less as is, Feinstein might be exasperated enough to actually ramp up the doomsday device, with the backing of some senior members. “I am going to use whatever tools it takes, including Senate Res 400, to declassify the torture report,” Wyden told me flatly, more than once.” Yahoo News

Whether the use of Resolution 400’s procedure to declassify the Torture Report is more bluster than reality, hopefully it will have the result of speeding up the declassification process and ensure that the report is not turned into a whitewash of the torture excesses.  This battle between the intelligence agencies and the Senate is a fight that should be important to all of us.

Americans are entitled to know what its intelligence agencies did in our name and the full disclosure of this Senate report could go a long way in educating us all to the reality that was the Enhanced Interrogation program.  Do you think that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence should use Resolution 400 and release the full report? Do you think the Senate will actually have the intestinal fortitude to use the Resolution 400 process if necessary?

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30 thoughts on “Senate Resolution 400 and the Torture Report”

  1. bettykath makes the most important point here. Bottom line, lawlessness begets more lawlessness. As I get older, there seems to be more similarity in life to a Tarantino film. Once you start down a dark path, it ain’t easy to turn around.
    I would hope that the report gets out. However, I do not know what kind of coverage (outside of maybe Bill Moyers) the report would get on network television since they are owned by the defense industries. I’m sure it would be the subject of the newest marketing science twist of the truth, and I’m afraid, in the end, some would be horrified, some would relish in the news, and the larger percentage would just not care.

  2. “”Dredd

    Nick Spinelli

    The crotch juice dampened and degraded the plastic explosive. Thank God he had horrible personal hygiene
    Who would want to know that besides analoids.””

    You guys just reminded me of the something.

    You wanna NOT know something? The government “weaponized cancer.” Go look at the CS photos at Dr. Mary’s Monkey. If you think current machinations are incredible, Dr. Mary’s Monkey will make you crazy, especially when you consider it was the U.S. government. You thought it was nuts, but this place is nutser than anybody thinks.

  3. Wait a minute. If this court had any standing, Rootin,’ Tootin’ Putin would have already been an indicted ham sandwich.

    Ridiculous. An “International Court of Justice in Den Haag, Netherlands? Maybe an “International Joke” but most assuredly not an “International Court” with any jurisdiction or power. LOL.

    Putin cavalierly shoots down an airliner with 300 souls on board as he illegally conducts military operations in a foreign country, all with impunity. Let’s be clear. The deliberate policy of Putin himself lead directly to this shoot down of innocents.

    The Dutch Court is like that dreaded long arm of the law in America that got OJ Simpson, huh? Or not.

    Gross negligence and dereliction, Mr. Putin.

    Would you believe manslaughter?

    Murder, mayhem, invasion and economic damage? Sounds like 10 to 20 to me.

    Those Dutch folks really have hot tempers, huh? You’d at least think the Dutch Ambassador to the U.N. would have gone over and smacked Putin’s U.N. mouthpiece with his purse or something equally as violent.

    For cryin’ out loud. The Netherlands lost 300 innocents. And they fall asleep or are just plain shakin’ in their boots.

    Oh hell yeah! They’ve got an “International Court” in the Netherlands.

    Whatever happened to NATO? Was NATO emasculated when America was? Oh, Hillary! We’re saved! Hillary/Pelosi In ’16. That’s the ticket.

    P.S. The Euro Zone is so afraid of losing gas from Russia it can’t function. What if the inverse were compelling. What if the EU boycotted Russia entirely, maybe used coal or nukes for the term of the boycott or even fracked a little? Might that have an effect of the same magnitude aimed back at Russia?

    China once referred to America as a “Paper Tiger.”

    Now it’s a “Broke Pulp Kitty.”

    Geez. Nobody can do anything anymore, let alone lead, huh?

    Put that Nanny Pelosi up there. That’ll put the fear o’ God in ’em (seriously, she scares the hell out of me, I mean what if somebody actually listened to her, think about it).

    The inmates have taken over the asylum.

  4. It is not far fetched that an International Tribunal will be formed and Americans will be charged with Human Rights abuses. Those who conspire to with hold evidence might be charged. There is a good book in the libraries of America by Whitney Harris, called Tryanny On Trial. Whitney was one of the American prosecutors at the Nuremburg Trials wherein we tried an assortment of Nazis for war crimes and the Holocaust. There is much here on this topic to be discussed on the blog. First of all we need to be familiar with current International Treaties. America has not signed on to the International Court of Justice in Den Haag, Netherlands. Why not? I suspect that we have some Himmler reasons. It would be good to get to the bottom of the human rights violations but it is embarrassing for America. We once thought of ourselves as Exemplary. That we were above the fray and could do no wrong. We now see a light at the end of a tunnel and it is a train coming at us. What is in this Report on torture? Waterboarding and worse? In a few years Lady Feinstein may be at Den Haag in the dock herself. Eich mochter ein attorney.

  5. Thanks for this post, raff. The report needs to be released. I’ve wondered why the Senate couldn’t release its own report. I thought that those who classified could also declassify. At least there’s a procedure for making it happen. I won’t hold my breath though.

    Torture smorture. If we hadn’t been involved in illegal wars in the first place, we wouldn’t have been at Abu Ghraib and we wouldn’t have had to create the abomination at Guantanamo. Those who gave the orders should be tried for war crimes.

  6. My two cents: anyone who perpetrated this, knew about it, or authorized it, or in the case of Obama didn’t prosecute it is a War Criminal & should visit The Hague. Obama is guilty of lots if other war crimes, same with Bush but classifying this is just one more example of American “exceptionalism” do as we say not as we do. End the evil empire.

  7. Nick Spinelli

    The TSA declassified the reports on the Christmas Day underwear bomber. We all know by the grace of God, the bomb would not fire. The reason turns out that the bomber wore his underwear bomb FOR 2 WEEKS DAILY. The crotch juice dampened and degraded the plastic explosive. Thank God he had horrible personal hygiene
    Who would want to know that besides analoids.

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