October 31, 2014

Wyden: CIA Demand To Black Out Torture Report Details Would Be Unprecedented

U.S. Has Long History of Using Pseudonyms to Protect Agents’ Identities; Redacting All Pseudonyms Buries the Facts, Doesn’t Improve National Security

Washington, D.C. –The Central Intelligence Agency’s call to black out all pseudonyms from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture would be unprecedented – and represents an unacceptable effort to obscure key facts, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said today.

“This report is about mistakes, misdeeds and falsehoods that were repeated over a period of years.  If you don’t know whether they were repeated by different officials each time, or by the same officials over and over, you really don’t know the full story,” Wyden said. “A lot of officials are intent on burying the full story, but getting the truth out is the only way to keep all of this from happening again.”

Wyden believes strongly that undercover agents’ identities must be protected. That’s why he worked with former Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., to double the criminal penalty for government employees who knowingly expose a covert agent. And Wyden and other Intelligence Committee members agree that undercover agents’ real names should not be made public.

“It is entirely appropriate to redact specific identifying information that would reveal an undercover officer’s secret identity – that’s not what’s at issue here,” Wyden said.  “The CIA is demanding that every single pseudonym in this report be blacked out. That would be unprecedented and unacceptable.” 

The CIA’s current opposition to using pseudonyms runs contrary to decades of precedent.  U.S. government agencies have used pseudonyms to protect agents’ identities in public reports going back decades, including:

Last week Sen. Wyden renewed his call for CIA’s leadership to stop trying to bury key facts about torture.