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Senate committee votes to release CIA 'torture' report

[JURIST] The US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence [official website] on Thursday voted [press release] 11-3 to submit to the White House to declassify and release a report on its findings about the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] use of torture. Last week, a group of advocacy groups sent President Barack Obama [official website] a letter [text, PDF] urging him to declassify the documents. Human rights advocacy groups have been pressuring the Obama administration to declassify the documents amid allegations of torture during former the administration of former president George W. Bush [official website] following the 9/11 attacks [JURIST news archive]. The Senate report allegedly uncovers [Guardian report] methods used against detainees such as simulated drownings and other forms of physical trauma. The White House has authorized the CIA to release the report itself. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] brought an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text] lawsuit [complaint, PDF] last year to obtain the full investigative report.

Controversy continues to surround CIA programs, which allegedly involved torture against detainees. In December lawyers for two Guantanamo detainees, arguing before the European Court of Human Rights [official website], accused Poland of serving as a secret torture site for the CIA's extraordinary rendition program [JURIST news archive]. In October the lawyer for five Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] prisoners charged with plotting the 9/11 attacks asked [JURIST report] Obama in an open letter to declassify the CIA interrogation program that allegedly subjected prisoners to torture. The letter argued that the continued classification of this program is suppressing important evidence related to the case. In 2009 the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] released four top secret memos from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) [official website] outlining controversial CIA interrogation techniques and their legal rationale. The previously undisclosed memos were released with redactions in response to the FOIA lawsuit filed by the ACLU during the Bush administration. The ACLU also called for an independent investigator to probe allegations of torture during the Bush administration, but Obama said [statement] that, "[i]n releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution."

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