Thursday, December 11, 2014

Senate Torture Report: The Senate Speaks

On December 9, 2014, the Senate Intelligence Committee published a report severely criticizing CIA interrogation practices as brutal and ineffective. The committee released to the public a redacted version of the report’s executive summary—nearly 500 pages long—the culmination of seven years’ work. It includes the views of the majority of committee members, an additional statement by Senator Jay Rockefeller, and the views of dissenting committee members. The full report is classified and runs nearly 6,700 pages.

In announcing the release of the report, several senators, including the Intelligence Committee Chair, gave speeches on the Senate floor explaining their views and findings. These speeches are a helpful, succinct introduction to what is now being called the Torture Report. Their remarks, with only minor edits and captions, are included in my new ebook, "Senate Torture Report: the Senate Speaks," included below.

(Update: now available through archive.org as ePub, PDF, full text, etc. Thanks Creeping Nounism.)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Retiring Sen. Rockefeller Stops Bipartisan FOIA Bill, Holds Its Fate in His Hands

Sen. Jay Rockefeller put a halt to a bipartisan FOIA bill that would make government more open and accountable. If the bill is not approved by the Senate on Monday, it will die. Unsurprisingly, many people have posted on the senator's Facebook page, tweeted at @SenRockefeller, and called his office (202-224-6472).

The FOIA bill, which earned unanimous bipartisan support from the Senate Judiciary Committee and every other member of the Senate, fixes systemic weaknesses in the Freedom of Information Act. Under House rules, after Monday there will be insufficient time for the House to consider the bill. This is true even though the House already passed a similar version of FOIA reform and is expected to readily pass the Senate bill.

Many are asking Rockefeller to release the hold, saying the bill is essential to open government and that Sen. Rockefeller, if he had concerns, should have voiced them long ago. His office, which was unresponsive all day Friday after it became known on Thursday that Rockefeller was responsible for the hold, put out a statement at 6:30 pm that did little to explain his concerns.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Electronic Toolbox for Congress

Images of Progress in the US Capitol

Here is a rundown of free digital tools any self-respecting congressional staffer, Member of Congress, journalist, or public advocate should consider using. All are free, run on information published by Congress or cobbled together from official sources, and most are built on open source code. (Many of the developers are members of the Congressional Data Coalition.)