The years-long battle in demanding the Obama administration publicly release a massive report detailing the post-9/11 torture program has taken a rather interesting turn. The CIA inspector general’s office claims that a significant copy of the comprehensive report has been “accidentally” destroyed. How convenient!
The ACLU has dubbed the missing report as “the most comprehensive account of of the program to date.” The extensive report, totaling nearly 7,000 pages, contained thousands of files with information regarding the CIA’s use of “enhanced” (read torturous) interrogation methods used at black site prisons. Brutal methods of assault including water-boarding, long term sleep deprivation, threatening the lives of family members, and an abhorrent form of torture known as “rectal feeding” were included in the report.
An intelligence community source reported that officials from the CIA inspector general’s office deleted an uploaded file containing the report and subsequently destroyed a disk that contained the document. Agency officials have portrayed the incident to Senate investigators as an inadvertent mistake. On top of this, lawyers for the Justice Department were simultaneously assuring a federal judge that copies of the document were being preserved.
“It’s breathtaking that this could have happened, especially in the inspector general’s office,” Douglas Cox, a City University of New York School of Law professor who specializes in tracking the preservation of federal records told Yahoo News. “They’re the ones that are supposed to be providing accountability within the agency itself. It makes you wonder what was going on over there?”
An initial 500-page executive report was released to the public in 2014 through the direction of California Senator Diane Feinstein. In addressing the recent flub-up, Feinstein sent letters to the CIA and Justice Department confirming that the spy’s agency had “misplaced or destroyed” its copy. Feinstein is now calling for an immediate replacement of the disappeared report.
In a letter addressed to the Director of the CIA, John Brennan, Feinstein wrote: “your prompt response will allay my concern that this was more than an ‘accident.’”
The ACLU has persistently demanded the release of the report of abuses under the Freedom of Information Act. Survivors of CIA torture have also called for declassification of the report and full transparency of the abuses. Demands have also been made for those behind the atrocities to be held accountable. The Obama administration has reluctantly fought against the release of the report and granted blanket immunity to all Bush-era CIA members involved in the torture.
The report-gone-missing is the latest incident in the ongoing battle over the public release of the report. It also comes in the midst of an escalating political debate over torture. Likely Republican nominee Donald Trump has vowed to resume such methods of heinous torture and abuse. “I love it. I love it,” Trump recently commented in an interview. “The only thing is, we should make it much tougher than waterboarding. And if you don’t think it works, folks, you’re wrong.”