In a career-defining speech, Sen. Mark Udall took to the Senate floor Wednesday to discuss a largely classified internal CIA investigation into the agency's Bush-era "enhanced interrogation techniques," and to call for the current CIA director's resignation.
Udall, an outbound Democrat from Colorado, began highlighting key conclusions from the CIA's so-called Panetta Review, written in 2011 and named after then-agency Director Leon Panetta. Its critical findings, in addition to the agency's attempts to prevent the Senate from seeing it, Udall said, demonstrates that the CIA is still lying about the scope of enhanced-interrogation techniques used during the Bush administration.
That deceit is continuing today under current CIA Director John Brennan, Udall said.
"The refusal to provide the full Panetta Review and the refusal to acknowledge facts detailed in both the committee study and the Panetta Review lead to one disturbing finding: Director Brennan and the CIA today are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture," Udall said. "In other words: The CIA is lying."
Obama, Udall said, "has expressed full confidence in Director Brennan and demonstrated that trust by making no effort at all to rein him in." Udall additionally referred to Brennan's "failed leadership" and suggested that he should resign.
Udall said that redactions in the Senate Intelligence Committee's landmark torture report obfuscated key details about the CIA's harsh interrogation methods. Among those, Udall said, the report is ambiguous about how many CIA officials participated in the brutal practices. In reality, it was only a handful, he said.
As he spoke, Udall continued to give a blistering and detailed account of what he portrayed as the CIA leadership's refusal to come clean with the American people about its now-defunct interrogation program. Udall accused the CIA of outright lying to the committee during its investigation.
"Torture just didn't happen, after all," Udall said. "Real, actual people engaged in torture. Some of these people are still employed by the CIA."
Udall said it was bad enough not to prosecute these officials, but to reward or promote them, he said, was incomprehensible. Udall called on Obama "to purge" his administration of anyone who was engaged in torturing prisoners.
"He needs to force a cultural change at the CIA," Udall said.
And, Udall said, the institutional problems are far from over. "CIA was knowingly providing inaccurate information to the committee in the present day," he said.
Udall publicly disclosed the existence of the Panetta Review during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last December. It has been previously reported that it harshly criticized the utility of the CIA's brutal Bush-era interrogation techniques.
Udall and other Democratic senators on the Intelligence panel have suggested that the Panetta Review strongly corroborates the findings in their committee's torture report, which was released Tuesday.
Since the torture report's release, top CIA officials, including Brennan, have swiftly defended the agency and its practices and criticized the Intelligence committee's investigation as misguided.
Udall first called for Brennan's resignation in July, a call that was echoed by fellow Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich and Republican Sen. Rand Paul. Udall's demand came after Brennan admitted that his spy agency had improperly accessed Senate staffers' computers used during its study of the CIA's enhanced-interrogation program.
Udall discussed that episode on Wednesday, noting that Brennan has refused to provide broader context as to how the computer hacking took place.
"For almost nine months, Director Brennan has flat-out refused to answer basic questions about the computer search, whether he suggested the search or approved it," Udall said. "If not, who did? He has refused to explain why the search was conducted [or] its legal basis."
The hacking, according to Udall and other Democratic senators, was done to remove from the Senate computers the Panetta Review, which the CIA may have handed over to its overseers by accident.
Udall's speech on Wednesday will likely be the last of his Senate career. In November, he lost his seat to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner. The defeat was viewed by many in the privacy and civil-liberties community as a stinging loss, as Udall for years has aggressively criticized perceived abuses by intelligence agencies, including mass surveillance operations carried out by the National Security Agency.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated what information is classified in the Panetta Review. A series of the report's findings were declassified Tuesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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