US ‘declassifies’ documents on Argentina rights abuses
Obama to preserve but not declassify torture report
The US government has declassified a new batch of documents shedding light on human rights abuses under Argentina’s military dictatorship between 1975 and 1984. The White House released about 500 newly declassified records, part of President Barack Obama’s pledge to provide additional documents to help Argentina hold human rights abusers accountable. Obama, on his March 2016 visit to Argentina, said that more documents would be declassified, following the 2002 release of more than 4,000 records. Those documents showed US officials had encouraged the Argentine junta’s purge of leftists.
For the first time, the US this year included military and intelligence records as requested by Argentine President Mauricio Macri and human rights groups. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a first batch of 1,000 declassified records to Macri in August.
The initial set and the second set of 500 records are available to the public at www.icontherecord.tumblr.com, the White House said in a statement. “The declassification project represents a historic effort by US Government agencies and departments to search, identify, review for public access, and provide records that shed light on human rights abuses in Argentina between 1975 and 1984,” the Obama administration said.
“These newly declassified records represent a continued commitment by the United States to promote justice and reconciliation in Argentina, to underscore the importance of transparency, and to highlight our shared commitment to human rights,” it said. “These records represent the second step in a lengthy and ambitious declassification process.” Obama’s trip to Argentina last March was the first bilateral visit by a US president there since Bill Clinton in 1997. Obama praised Macri for the economic reforms since he took office in December 2015 after 12 years of leftist rule by the late Nestor Kirchner and his wife Cristina.
Senate torture report
Meanwhile, Obama will not declassify a comprehensive Senate report on the CIA’s use of torture but he will preserve a copy in his presidential library, according to a White House letter released Monday. Obama stipulated that the material remain classified for 12 years, said the letter from White House Counsel Neil Eggleston to Senator Dianne Feinstein, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Amid worries the incoming Trump administration could move to have all copies of the report destroyed, Eggleston said that the full 6,700page study will be preserved under the Presidential Records Act. “At this time, we are not pursuing declassification of the full study,” the letter said. The Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, completed in 2014, detailed brutal torture methods like waterboarding used by the agency on detainees following September 11, 2001 attacks.
It also reportedly deeply questioned the effectiveness of the techniques, since banned by the Obama administration. Several copies were distributed to key parts of the US intelligence community, which has kept them under wraps. In 2015, when Republicans took the lead of the Intelligence Committee, the new Chair Richard Burr sought to collect them all back. Since then, some Democrats have pressed for the release of the full report, fearing Republicans aim to destroy it. Obama’s move guarantees at least one copy will survive, if not made public before 2029.
Senator Ron Wyden, a Democratic member of the committee, urged Obama to put the classified study on the public record and to direct that a redacted version be declassified, pointing to the possibility that President-elect Donald Trump could revive the use of torture. “President Obama has made his opposition to torture a central part of his legacy,” Wyden said in a statement. “The American people deserve the opportunity to read this history rather than see it locked away in a safe for 12 years.
“It is also more critical than ever that the study be made available to cleared personnel throughout the federal government who are responsible for authorizing and implementing our country’s detention and interrogation policies,”Wyden said. — Agencies the
President Barack Obama