Defeating Mark Udall in Colorado may yield one final victory for liberty

NSA Domestic Spying

When Republican challenger Cory Gardner defeated incument Democrat Mark Udall in Colorado, it was a huge victory for constitutional government and individual liberty. However, that victory might yield one final benefit even before Gardener takes office in January. Mark Udall, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee is considering releasing all or part of a secret government report on the CIA’s torture program before he leaves office.

As a member of Congress, Udall has immunity from prosecution for releasing classified information as part of the “Speech or Debate Clause” if he does so on the floor of the Senate. He could read the entire unredacted report in a speech or filibuster and suffer no criminal consequence because of the congressional exception and no political consequence since he’s leaving office.

The report was compiled by the Senate Intelligence Committee from 2009 to 2012 based on documents from the detention and interrogation program started after the September 11 attacks. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has no problem with the government’s wholesale violation of American privacy rights, summarizes the report as follows:

“The committee’s report is more than 6,000 pages long. It is a comprehensive review of the CIA’s detention program that includes details of each detainee in CIA custody, the conditions under which they were detained, how they were interrogated, the intelligence they actually provided and the accuracy—or inaccuracy—of CIA descriptions about the program to the White House, Department of Justice, Congress and others. …

“The report uncovers startling details about the CIA detention and interrogation program and raises critical questions about intelligence operations and oversight. …

“I strongly believe that the creation of long-term, clandestine ‘black sites’ and the use of so-called ‘enhanced-interrogation techniques’ were terrible mistakes. The majority of the Committee agrees.

To his credit, Udall has been a reliable defender of civil liberties and critic of the NSA and other unconstitutional spying programs. Fortunately, his replacement promises to be just as skeptical of unlawful Fourth Amendment violations of American citizens.

The bipartisan, bicameral measures by Udall, Rand Paul, Ron Wyden, Justin Amash, and others to reform the NSA and other counterterrorism programs that inevitably affect ordinary Americans have been one of the most inspiring (though so far unfruitful) efforts undertaken by Congress in many years. Udall’s defeat and potential lame duck disclosures could be the spark that finally get it done.


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