Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) lost his reelection bid on Tuesday. This is particularly important as Udall was one of the most forceful members of the Senate Intelligence Committee to call for more disclosure from the CIA and NSA regarding their operations.
Trevor Timm, writing in The Guardian, has interestingly suggested that Udall could legally read into the Congressional Record the text of the CIA Torture Report, prepared by the Intelligence Committee, which is still tied up by the CIA (and Obama Administration) refusals to allow publication of the report without massive and frustrating redactions.
America’s rising civil liberties movement lost one of its strongest advocates in the US Congress on Tuesday night, as Colorado’s Mark Udall lost his Senate seat to Republican Cory Gardner. While the election was not a referendum on Udall’s support for civil liberties (Gardner expressed support for surveillance reform, and Udall spent most of his campaign almost solely concentrating on reproductive issues), the loss is undoubtedly a blow for privacy and transparency advocates, as Udall was one of the NSA and CIA’s most outspoken and consistent critics. Most importantly, he sat on the intelligence committee, the Senate’s sole oversight board of the clandestine agencies, where he was one of just a few dissenting members.
But Udall’s loss doesn’t have to be all bad. The lame-duck transparency advocate now has a rare opportunity to truly show his principles in the final two months of his Senate career and finally expose, in great detail, the secret government wrongdoing he’s been criticizing for years. On his way out the door, Udall can use congressional immunity provided to him by the Constitution’s Speech and Debate clause to read the Senate’s still-classified 6,000-page CIA torture report into the Congressional record – on the floor, on TV, for the world to see.
There’s ample precedent for this. In 1971, former Senator Mike Gravel famously read the top-secret classified Pentagon Papers for three hours before almost collapsing and then entering thousands of pages more into the record after he couldn’t speak for any longer from exhaustion.
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But now, Udall has nothing to lose. He can’t get kicked off any committee he won’t be a part of in two months. And he can’t be prosecuted for revealing classified information as a member of Congress.
This would be a terrific service to Americans who need to know that torture was official US policy following 9/11 so as to insure that such crimes never happen again by the American government.