Groups Want National Archives to Ensure Preservation of Senate Torture Report

Thirty open government, human rights, civil liberties and media organizations have joined TCP in urging the National Archives to ensure preservation of the report on the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program prepared by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and delivered to several executive branch agencies in December, 2014.

In an April 29 letter to David Ferriero, the groups urged the National Archives and Records Administration, which he heads, to declare the SSCI report a federal record, and hence subject to the agency’s jurisdiction. “There is also no reasonable dispute that the full study contains historically important evidence of the U.S. government’s actions and decisions, and is appropriate for preservation,” they wrote.

The groups note that the full study was transmitted by then-Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-N.Y.) to President Obama, the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the CIA, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the Director of the FBI, and the CIA Inspector General “for use as broadly as appropriate to help make sure that this experience is never repeated.” However, several media stories report that the current SSCI chair, Richard Burr (R-N.C.), wrote to the president to ask him to return copies of the full study. NARA’s general guidance to executive branch agencies confirms that, once transmitted, Congressional reports are federal records suitable for permanent preservation.

The groups wrote that the Senate study began as an examination of the CIA’s destruction of crucial video records of the torture program, which occurred without NARA’s knowledge or authorization. They said it would be “sadly ironic” if the agency did not act to preserve executive branch copies of the full SSCI report now.

In addition to TCP, some of the groups making the request include Association of American Publishers, Center for Media and Democracy, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Federation of American Scientists, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, National Security Archive, Society of Professional Journalists and Sunlight Foundation.

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