Letters to the Editor

William E. Jackson Jr.: Future impact

Regarding the Dec. 11 news article “ CIA, Senate Dems feud over torture report”: The most disheartening aspect of the shocking Senate report on the treatment of detainees is that President Obama could have ordered its release some time ago, with fewer redactions, regardless of the wishes of CIA Director John Brennan.

Instead, the president acted as if the CIA were some sort of independent agency with which it was necessary for the White House to negotiate as broker between the Senate Intelligence Committee chair and Langley, Va. This incestuous Beltway clash between separated institutions sharing powers provides a big clue as to how future revelations about misuse of power by the NSA as part of “the surveillance state” will be handled.

Imagine a scenario in 2017, under a new president who ran as a champion of civil liberties, in which the Senate Intelligence Committee belatedly investigates the unconstitutional dragnet collection of metadata during the Obama administration, has plans to release a public report – identifying names – and is fiercely opposed by the NSA director.

An additional irony: Some members of that same committee (Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr, for example) will have countenanced the surveillance programs in the past, just as they approved – or did not oppose – the treatment of terrorist suspects after 9/11. It would be deja vu all over again.

William E. Jackson Jr.