Dianne Feinstein Invokes Torture’s Covert Status on Declassification

Five years ago, I reported (BREAKING) that the Bush Administration (aka Dick Cheney) made the torture program a Special Access Program in unusual fashion. Rather than CIA Director George Tenet make torture a SAP, as mandated by the Executive Order governing such things, unnamed people in the National Security Council did so.

Panetta tells a funny story about how (but not when) the torture program became a special access program.

Section 6.1(kk) of the Executive Order defines a “special access program” as “a program established for a special class of classified information that imposes safeguarding and access requirements that exceed those normally required for information at the same classification level.” Section 4.5 of the Order specifies the U.S. Government officials who may create a special access program. This section further provides that for special access programs pertaining to intelligence activities (including special activities, but not including military operations, strategic, and tactical programs), or intelligence sources or methods, this function shall be exercised by the Director of the CIA.

[snip]

Officials at the National Security Council, (NSC) determined that in light of the extraordinary circumstances affecting the vital interests of the United States and the senstivity of the activities contemplated in the CIA terrorist detention and interrogation program, it was essential to limit access to the information in the program. NSC officials established a special access program governing access to information relating to the CIA terrorist detention and interrogation program. As the executive agent for implementing the terrorist detention and interrogation program, the CIA is responsible for limiting access to such information in accordance with the NSC’s direction. [my emphasis]

See the funny bit? The first paragraph says the Director of the CIA “shall” “exercise” the function of creating special access programs pertaining to intelligence. But then the very next paragraph says “NSC officials established a special access program.” One paragraph says the Director of CIA has to do it, but the next paragraph admits someone else did it.

Since that time, I’ve asked experts in classification and they agree that something funky went down (note, too, that torture wasn’t a SAP at the very beginning).

I believe torture’s odd SAP status is one of the things that has implicated the Presidency, which the Obama Administration went to some lengths to cover up.

But it also should dictate the White House take the lead on declassification of the torture program.

Don’t take my word for it — take Dianne Feinstein’s word. In a letter to the White House, she invoked torture’s status as a “covert action program under the authority of the President and National Security Council” to call for the White House to lead declassification.

In a letter to the President dated April 7 and obtained by McClatchy, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called for swift action on the summary and the findings and conclusions of the report, which members voted last week to declassify. The summary, Feinstein said, should be released “quickly and with minimal redactions.”

“As this report covers a covert action program under the authority of the President and National Security Council, I respectfully request that the White House take the lead in the declassification process,” the letter reads.

Note, Dianne Feinstein has just formally confirmed the same detail the Obama Administration appealed to keep secret: torture was authorized by the President, not by OLC, not by George Tenet, not by John Rizzo. The President.

Which is why the President should take responsibility for releasing the report.

 

Tweet about this on Twitter87Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook9Google+1Email to someone

13 Responses to Dianne Feinstein Invokes Torture’s Covert Status on Declassification

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @Johngcole It's not enough; Madam Secretary is horrible.
44mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @rdevro I'm going to ask @Ali_Gharib to come out here and work with me and try to restore my patriotism.
52mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @NoahShachtman: The US just simultaneously bombed opposing sides in a war. That's how f'ing crazy this #Syria conflict is.
57mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Now @CNN expert saying how amazing how pinpointed ISIS in so many locations. Cause, you know, we'd never blast a bunch of innocent civilians
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz "Military expert" on @CNN says "important to note tonight is bigger than before". Pee Wee Herman could give better analysis.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @LegallyErin Totally.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @SeriousOne1975 @csoghoian Definitely sparkly though.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @LegallyErin They need to give Mary Louise Parker her finger back.#Blacklist
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @SeriousOne1975 @csoghoian Not sure yet. Am just starting to shop.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @rdevro @Ali_Gharib Well, golly, I'd like to and all, as you know, but not so much.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Merriiman No, we will starve and erode every other aspect of our society to make sure we keep the might. It's all that matters now.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @rdevro @Ali_Gharib Well, that makes it super legal IHL/IHRL then!
1hreplyretweetfavorite
April 2014
S M T W T F S
« Mar   May »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930