US ‘de­clas­si­fies’ doc­u­ments on Ar­gentina rights abuses

Obama to pre­serve but not de­clas­sify tor­ture re­port

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.tum­, 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

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