There have a been many dark days in America during the past decade but the revelation that the government had authorized the torture of prisoners has to be one of the darkest. It took a lot of painstaking journalism to uncover what we know even as the government did everything in its power to cover up the details, going so far as to destroy evidence and immunize the perpetrators from prosecution.
Nonetheless, the Senate Intelligence Committee went to great lengths to compile a 6,000 page report on this ugly chapter in our history. It was approved for release by a majority of the committee many months ago but the White House insisted on a further review and approval process even going so far as to insist that pseudonyms be redacted. They are still dragging their feet. If they have their way the report will be issued with every word blacked out except "the" and "end." As of yesterday, the outlook for its release any time soon looked bleak.
The Senate is going to lose one of its foremost civil libertarians at the end of this congress. Senator Mark Udall, who lost his seat in the midterm election, has been among the few in congress who performed his oversight duties as a member of the Intelligence Committee with independence and integrity and he will be missed.
But he could do one last act of conscience before he goes: as a sitting Senator, he can place the Torture Report into the congressional record as former Senator Mike Gravel did back in 1971 with the Pentagon Papers.
Udall himself has said he is considering it:
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who was defeated in the midterm elections, has threatened to read the unredacted report into the Congressional Record on the Senate floor, a rare and provocative move that is nevertheless protected by the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause.
"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," Udall told the Denver Post last week.
"Not only do we have to shed light on this dark chapter of our nation's history, but we've got to make sure future administrations don't repeat the grave mistakes."
We are hoping that Senator Udall will cap his Senate career with this act patriotism and have joined with several other groups to petition him to do it. If you would like to sign on to this request along with us, you can click here.
This isn't an easy thing to ask of any Senator. But torture isn't just another issue. It goes to the very heart of who we are as a country. Senator Udall can help this nation face up to what happened and let the government know that it must never, ever, happen again.