The Obama administration, it is now beyond dispute, is in thrall to the CIA. The president, through his chief-of-staff, Denis McDonough, has been doing all he can to render the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on torture unintelligible, if he cannot prevent its publication entirely. And he is not giving an inch in his now two-years’ war against the transparency and accountability he once said he favored. Readers know I’ve almost given up on them, and am deeply concerned that next year, a Republican-run Senate will bury the report for ever. That’s clearly John Brennan’s strategy, as it has been from the start. It’s also, clearly, Obama’s.
I once saw Obama as a way out of our torture shame. If he was never going to investigate and prosecute, as is demanded of any signatory to Geneva, I never thought he would actively prevent even some small measure of accountability. How wrong I was.
Senator Rockefeller calls it like it is after yet another meeting with John Brennan’s best friend, Denis McDonough, a Catholic for some reason dedicated to ensuring that torturers not only face no punishment or reproach, but that their crimes are protected from public accountability for ever:
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (.), who served as intelligence committee chair before Feinstein, was furious after the meeting, and accused the administration of deliberately stalling the report. “It’s being slow-walked to death. They’re doing everything they can not to release it,” Rockefeller told HuffPost. “It makes a lot of people who did really bad things look really bad, which is the only way not to repeat those mistakes in the future,” he continued. “The public has to know about it. They don’t want the public to know about it.”
As negotiations continue, Rockefeller said Democrats were thinking creatively about how to resolve the dispute. “We have ideas,” he said, adding that reading the report’s executive summary into the record on the Senate floor would probably meet with only limited success. “The question would be how much you could read before they grabbed you and hauled you off.”
In this game of brinksmanship, it’s clear that Obama is prepared to risk the burial of the entire report. The Senators therefore need to come up with a way to bypass him and the rogue agency he refuses to hold to account. If they can’t read the report into the Congressional Record, there must be another way. To leave this rogue agency with the knowledge that it can do anything, commit any crime, violate any treaty, spy on its overseers, and never even face a public accounting, let alone punishment, of its crimes, is an invitation for these lawless agents to do anything they want in the future. And under a pro-torture, pro-war, pro-secrecy future Republican administration, we can only begin to wonder what they will get away with next.