Pentagon Papers redux?
Even before Sen. Mark Udall’s Nov. 4 loss, transparency advocates were pushing him to take a dramatic stand: Disclose all the secret details of the CIA’s torture techniques.
Now that he’s on his way out, the Colorado Democrat told The Denver Post, his hometown newspaper, that he’s considering it.
“I’m going to keep all options on the table to ensure the truth comes out,” Udall said.
If Udall, who has nothing to lose at this point, decides to reveal the government’s classified information, he would be protected by the Constitution’s “Speech or Debate Clause,” which allows lawmakers to speak freely on the floor without fear of prosecution.
The Senate Intelligence Committee, which Udall sits on, is working with the White House on making information in the report public. As of now, the CIA has redacted parts of the committee report. Our colleague, columnist Dana Milbank, made the case in August for why the CIA shouldn’t be allowed to censor certain details.
Udall told the Denver Post: “I’m not going to accept the release of any version of the executive summary that doesn’t get out the truth of this program.”
Famously in 1971, former senator Mike Gravel of Alaska used this constitutional privilege when he read part of the Pentagon Papers, a history of the United States’ involvement in Vietnam, and submitted the rest into the public congressional record.
Trevor Timm, co-founder of Freedom of the Press Foundation, wrote in The Guardian after the election urging Udall to follow Gravel’s lead.
“… you only have one option left: read the CIA torture report into the Congressional record and bring transparency to one of America’s darkest hours once and for all – before it’s too late,” Timm wrote.
Udall’s office confirmed the Denver Post reporting, and said there was nothing more to add.