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:
- Review of the FBI’s Involvement in and Observations of Detainee Interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq (2008) – Refers to FBI Special Agents involved in detainee interrogations using pseudonyms such as “Thomas” and “Gibson.”
- The 9/11 Commission Report (2004) – Refers to agents involved in hunting Osama Bin Ladin and other sensitive operations using pseudonyms such as “Mike,” “Richard,” “Jeff.” Pages 110, 112, 113, 114, 130, 131, 133, 138, 142, 204.
- The Investigation of the Abu Ghraib Detention Facility (2004) – Refers to CIA employees at the Abu Ghraib prison using pseudonyms such as “Other Agency Employee01,” “Other Agency Employee02,” etc. Pages 53, 54, 55, 76
- Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board – (1998) – Includes the names of some CIA officers, and notes that “in some cases pseudonyms are used instead of an individual’s true name.” (p. 52) Also notes that “the Review Board would not agree to CIA’s request for blanket postponements of CIA names.” Page 48.
- Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair (1987) – refers to a CIA station chief in Central America using the pseudonym “Tomas Castillo. “ Pages pp. 139, 142, 143, 144, 146, 147, 505-510.
- Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders – (1975) – Report authored by the Church Committee notes that “We believe that the public is entitled to know what instrumentalities of their Government have done,” and that “the Committee, on occasions, resorted, on balance, to the use of an alias or a general description of the individual or his position.” Page 2.