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Yesterday, John Brennan, President Obama's nominee to be the head of the C.I.A., answered questions before the Senate Intelligence Committee.  At yesterday's hearing, Senator Mark Udall (D. CO) wanted Brennan to come clean on torture:

The Senate intelligence committee’s nearly 6,000-page report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program was raised multiple times. Sen. Mark Udall strongly advocated for the declassification of the report so the public could read it.
"….I don’t think it has to be difficult, that is the declassification, for these reasons: The identities of the most important detainees have already been declassified. The interrogation techniques themselves have been declassified. The application of the interrogation techniques to detainees has been declassified to some extent with the partial declassification of the Inspector General report. And the intelligence was declassified to a significant extent when the Bush administration described plots it claimed were thwarted as a result of the program. So long as the report does not identify any undercover officers or perhaps the names of certain countries, can you think of any reason why the report couldn’t be declassified with the appropriate number of redactions?"

Brennan’s answer was the declassification request would be taken “under serious consideration,” and there were “very weighty considerations” that need to be made when deciding to declassify the report.

When Udall asked Brennan this question, he was not just asking for Brennan’s opinion because he wanted to reveal secrets. Particularly, Udall addressed the issue of how “inaccurate information” has been shared widely on the CIA’s use of torture techniques by former and current CIA officials while “accurate information” has remained classified. “Inaccurate information” was provided by the CIA to the Justice Department, White House, Congress and the public. He wanted Brennan’s assurance that, as CIA chief, he would correct “any incorrect information.” (For what it’s worth, Brennan said yes, he would.) - Firedoglake, 2/8/13
We'll see if Brennan delivers on this promise.  The other thing Udall wants is more time to look into is the legal rationale for drone strikes:

WASHINGTON — Sen. Mark Udall said he was frustrated Thursday that he did not get substantive time — and staff expertise — with classified documents that lay out a legal rationale for drone strikes against Americans working with al-Qaeda abroad.

President Barack Obama released a confidential legal opinion to senators on the Intelligence Committee on Thursday — in part because Udall, a Colorado Democrat, and Sen Ron Wyden of Oregon pushed aggressively for transparency on the government's constitutional justification to kill American-born citizens abroad in counterterrorism operations.

But the senators on Thursday were not allowed to bring in staffers or their own lawyers to help them parse the legal language, Udall said. He said he had only 15 to 20 minutes with the complex legal opinion early in the morning because his day was so packed with other obligations.

"The restrictions on what I can say or what I can't say are frustrating," Udall said. "The point of the memos as a committee is how the president is justifying the killing of Americans on foreign soil. ... The legal document we saw is detailed and substantive enough, but even if you're a lawyer ... it's extremely complicated." - Daily Camera, 2/7/13

Udall has a great reputation for standing for civil liberties.  You can read more here:

I'm proud of Udall for his grilling of Brennan.  He's sincere about getting the facts and protecting U.S. citizens.  Now I don't know what will happen next with Brennan's nomination but I hope Senator Udall continues to be aggressive in his search for answers on torture and drone strikes.  And the legal rationale for drone strikes isn't the only thing frustrating Udall:

Mark Udall called on his colleagues in Congress to quickly reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to save lives and strengthen families throughout Colorado and to avoid a repeat of last year, when the House's failure to reauthorize VAWA left hundreds of thousands of survivors without adequate help.

Udall has been a vocal supporter of reauthorizing VAWA, collecting support from Coloradans and championing it on the Senate floor shortly before it passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support. However, because the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass it before the end of 2012, VAWA programs were cut off from federal support to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

"The Violence Against Women Act has saved lives and strengthened families throughout Colorado and the United States by changing the way our society thinks about - and responds to - domestic violence. Congress shouldn't cubbyhole our constituents into the right and wrong types of victims-we ought to be fighting instead to ensure the programs they rely on have adequate support. Survivors and victims of violence deserve better," Udall said. "I am ashamed that this bill has been gridlocked by partisanship, but my colleagues in the House have another chance to do the right thing. Reauthorizing VAWA will help law enforcement officers confront perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse; provide safe and secure support services to survivors of crimes; and establish a National Domestic Violence Hotline. Let's get it done." - Political News, 2/8/13

Here are the updates made to the VAWA:
■Improved responses to violence against Native American women;
■Increased accountability measures for grant programs, in response to a series of Justice Department inspector general audits that found problems with accounting;
■Greater access to support services for LGBT victims of domestic violence; and
■Ensures law enforcement personnel receive the funding and support to ensure rape kits are promptly tested and to reduce the countrywide backlog.
Udall has joined forces with Senators Jeff Merkley (D. OR), Kay Hagan (D. NC) and Jeanne Shaheen to help fundraise for each other's re-election campaign and his colleague, Senator Michael Bennet (D. CO) is the Chairman of the DSCC so he shouldn't have a lot of problems fundraising for his re-election campaign.  Especially since he has $1.3 million in the bank already.  But the NRA will certainly have their sights on defeating Udall in 2014 since he has come out in support of gun control:

DENVER — The head of the National Rifle Association said Thursday he's confident that Congress won't approve an assault weapons ban or a limit on high-capacity ammunition magazines after mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut.

David Keene predicted failure for all congressional measures related to guns, including expanded background checks for gun purchases.

Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat, said he disagreed with Keene's assertion that Congress would do nothing.

"In the wake of recent mass shootings, including one in Colorado, the status quo on gun violence is simply unacceptable," Udall said in a statement. "Coloradans expect and deserve better than continued inaction from Congress. I simply disagree that Congress cannot or should not try to reduce mass shootings and gun violence." - Times Union, 2/7/13

It's good Udall isn't being intimated by Keene because gun control can be touchy subject in a swing state like Colorado:

In the more than a decade since Columbine, activists on both sides of the gun debate, say the political landscape of the once-Republican state has shifted dramatically. After Columbine, Colorado voters saw one new piece of gun legislation. Residents voted to close the gun show loophole in the state. But after a year where a movie theater and elementary school shooting shook the nation, it looks as if the state could be on the verge of passing a more sweeping collection of gun-control bills. - U.S. News, 2/8/13
Last month, the Denver Post did a poll that showed that 60 percent of Coloradans supported background checks, limiting high-capacity magazines and banning some types of semi-automatic weapons.  However, their poll did show that 56 percent of the respondents in Colorado still have a favorable view of the NRA.  Though local Democratic legislators in Colorado aren't all on the same page in terms of gun control, Udall is willing to do what's right.  But it doesn't hurt to keep reminding him that you support comprehensive gun control so feel free to contact his office and encourage him to stay strong on gun control:


And if you're a Colorado resident, here are the numbers to his local offices:

Clark, CO: 303-650-7820

Greeley, CO: 970-356-5586

Grand Junction, CO: 970-245-9553

Denver, CO: 303-650-7820

Pueblo, CO: 719-542-1701

Durango, CO: 970-247-1047

Colorado Springs, CO: 719-471-3993

Alamosa, CO: 719-589-2101

And feel free to donate to his re-election campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 03:17 PM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party and Colorado COmmunity.

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Comment Preferences

  •  i'm back. (6+ / 0-)

    your diary: colossal.
    you: indispensable.

    my power: iffy, as the lights are flickering.
    i expect to read it all late tomorrow.

    fantastically done.

    * Join: The Action: End the Bush Tax Cuts for Richest Two Percent * Addington's Perpwalk: TRAILHEAD of Accountability for Bush-2 Crimes.

    by greenbird on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 03:24:54 PM PST

  •  I'll give Brennan this much, he seemed very open (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chacounne, MrAnon

    to working with Congress and building some trust back up with CIA and Congress and America in general.

    •  We shall see where that goes. (3+ / 0-)

      Brennan has, in the past, defended the torture inflicted under Bush, so I do not think he should be head of the agency which inflicted much of the torture.

      I think as important as that is getting the American people to understand how important it is to hold those at the top who authorized and ordered the torture inflicted by the US since 9/11 to legal account.

                    Standing for justice and accountability,
                                     For Dan,

      Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is inflicting it on whom.

      by Chacounne on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 04:05:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Keep Secrets From Whom? (6+ / 0-)

    It seems to me that the big logical flaw in the classification debate is the question of who it is the government is trying to keep secrets from.  This goes back to the "secret" bombing campaign in Cambodia during the Viet Nam war.  The Cambodians didn't think that their trees were just exploding on their own.  They knew beyond any reasonable doubt that the explosions were caused by bombs dropped from American planes.  The "secret" in the Cambodian bombing campaign was only a secret to American voters.

    Same deal with the drone strikes.  When a house blows up the neighbors don't think that the TV spontaneously combusted.  The Al Qaeda buddies of the target don't have any doubt what happened.  Again, the only people kept in the dark by the secret are the American voters.  The same analysis applies to interrogation techniques used on anybody who we subsequently release, or anybody we then allow to communicate to anyone who could get the word out even if they don't get released.

    So, the real question is, if al Qaeda already knows what we are doing, what is the harm to national security if the American voter gets to know the same information al Qaeda already knows?  There may be operational details about sources and methods, but the basic fact of what is being done in our name, the voters are the only ones who don't know.

  •  well... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    progressivevoice, OLinda

    Well back in 2007 when then Congressman Udall office and
    and then Senator Salazar and Congress woman Degette were "occupied" as we read names of the dead..those involved were all charged with trespassing..

    The difference? Degette's staff and Salazar's staff did not testify...those involved paid minimal fines... at the trial for those at Udall's office the staff intern's testified..wrongly that the office was shut wasn't..attempts to talk with Rep. Udall prior to trial were rebuffed..they were found guilty 2 were  sentenced to  1year reduced to 30 days work release at Adams County Jail and probation prohibiting any further action at udall's office......

    I was in the office but left prior to arrest..I attended the trial...
    So please save me the PR bullshit

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