Yesterday, John Brennan, President Obama's nominee to be the head of the C.I.A., answered questions before the Senate Intelligence Committee. At yesterday's hearing, Senator Mark Udall (D. CO) wanted Brennan to come clean on torture:
The Senate intelligence committee’s nearly 6,000-page report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program was raised multiple times. Sen. Mark Udall strongly advocated for the declassification of the report so the public could read it.We'll see if Brennan delivers on this promise. The other thing Udall wants is more time to look into is the legal rationale for drone strikes:
"….I don’t think it has to be difficult, that is the declassification, for these reasons: The identities of the most important detainees have already been declassified. The interrogation techniques themselves have been declassified. The application of the interrogation techniques to detainees has been declassified to some extent with the partial declassification of the Inspector General report. And the intelligence was declassified to a significant extent when the Bush administration described plots it claimed were thwarted as a result of the program. So long as the report does not identify any undercover officers or perhaps the names of certain countries, can you think of any reason why the report couldn’t be declassified with the appropriate number of redactions?"
Brennan’s answer was the declassification request would be taken “under serious consideration,” and there were “very weighty considerations” that need to be made when deciding to declassify the report.When Udall asked Brennan this question, he was not just asking for Brennan’s opinion because he wanted to reveal secrets. Particularly, Udall addressed the issue of how “inaccurate information” has been shared widely on the CIA’s use of torture techniques by former and current CIA officials while “accurate information” has remained classified. “Inaccurate information” was provided by the CIA to the Justice Department, White House, Congress and the public. He wanted Brennan’s assurance that, as CIA chief, he would correct “any incorrect information.” (For what it’s worth, Brennan said yes, he would.) - Firedoglake, 2/8/13
Udall has a great reputation for standing for civil liberties. You can read more here:WASHINGTON — Sen. Mark Udall said he was frustrated Thursday that he did not get substantive time — and staff expertise — with classified documents that lay out a legal rationale for drone strikes against Americans working with al-Qaeda abroad.
President Barack Obama released a confidential legal opinion to senators on the Intelligence Committee on Thursday — in part because Udall, a Colorado Democrat, and Sen Ron Wyden of Oregon pushed aggressively for transparency on the government's constitutional justification to kill American-born citizens abroad in counterterrorism operations.
But the senators on Thursday were not allowed to bring in staffers or their own lawyers to help them parse the legal language, Udall said. He said he had only 15 to 20 minutes with the complex legal opinion early in the morning because his day was so packed with other obligations.
"The restrictions on what I can say or what I can't say are frustrating," Udall said. "The point of the memos as a committee is how the president is justifying the killing of Americans on foreign soil. ... The legal document we saw is detailed and substantive enough, but even if you're a lawyer ... it's extremely complicated." - Daily Camera, 2/7/13
I'm proud of Udall for his grilling of Brennan. He's sincere about getting the facts and protecting U.S. citizens. Now I don't know what will happen next with Brennan's nomination but I hope Senator Udall continues to be aggressive in his search for answers on torture and drone strikes. And the legal rationale for drone strikes isn't the only thing frustrating Udall:
Here are the updates made to the VAWA:Mark Udall called on his colleagues in Congress to quickly reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to save lives and strengthen families throughout Colorado and to avoid a repeat of last year, when the House's failure to reauthorize VAWA left hundreds of thousands of survivors without adequate help.
Udall has been a vocal supporter of reauthorizing VAWA, collecting support from Coloradans and championing it on the Senate floor shortly before it passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support. However, because the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass it before the end of 2012, VAWA programs were cut off from federal support to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
"The Violence Against Women Act has saved lives and strengthened families throughout Colorado and the United States by changing the way our society thinks about - and responds to - domestic violence. Congress shouldn't cubbyhole our constituents into the right and wrong types of victims-we ought to be fighting instead to ensure the programs they rely on have adequate support. Survivors and victims of violence deserve better," Udall said. "I am ashamed that this bill has been gridlocked by partisanship, but my colleagues in the House have another chance to do the right thing. Reauthorizing VAWA will help law enforcement officers confront perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse; provide safe and secure support services to survivors of crimes; and establish a National Domestic Violence Hotline. Let's get it done." - Political News, 2/8/13
■Improved responses to violence against Native American women;Udall has joined forces with Senators Jeff Merkley (D. OR), Kay Hagan (D. NC) and Jeanne Shaheen to help fundraise for each other's re-election campaign and his colleague, Senator Michael Bennet (D. CO) is the Chairman of the DSCC so he shouldn't have a lot of problems fundraising for his re-election campaign. Especially since he has $1.3 million in the bank already. But the NRA will certainly have their sights on defeating Udall in 2014 since he has come out in support of gun control:
■Increased accountability measures for grant programs, in response to a series of Justice Department inspector general audits that found problems with accounting;
■Greater access to support services for LGBT victims of domestic violence; and
■Ensures law enforcement personnel receive the funding and support to ensure rape kits are promptly tested and to reduce the countrywide backlog.
It's good Udall isn't being intimated by Keene because gun control can be touchy subject in a swing state like Colorado:DENVER — The head of the National Rifle Association said Thursday he's confident that Congress won't approve an assault weapons ban or a limit on high-capacity ammunition magazines after mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut.
David Keene predicted failure for all congressional measures related to guns, including expanded background checks for gun purchases.Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat, said he disagreed with Keene's assertion that Congress would do nothing.
"In the wake of recent mass shootings, including one in Colorado, the status quo on gun violence is simply unacceptable," Udall said in a statement. "Coloradans expect and deserve better than continued inaction from Congress. I simply disagree that Congress cannot or should not try to reduce mass shootings and gun violence." - Times Union, 2/7/13
Last month, the Denver Post did a poll that showed that 60 percent of Coloradans supported background checks, limiting high-capacity magazines and banning some types of semi-automatic weapons. However, their poll did show that 56 percent of the respondents in Colorado still have a favorable view of the NRA. Though local Democratic legislators in Colorado aren't all on the same page in terms of gun control, Udall is willing to do what's right. But it doesn't hurt to keep reminding him that you support comprehensive gun control so feel free to contact his office and encourage him to stay strong on gun control:In the more than a decade since Columbine, activists on both sides of the gun debate, say the political landscape of the once-Republican state has shifted dramatically. After Columbine, Colorado voters saw one new piece of gun legislation. Residents voted to close the gun show loophole in the state. But after a year where a movie theater and elementary school shooting shook the nation, it looks as if the state could be on the verge of passing a more sweeping collection of gun-control bills. - U.S. News, 2/8/13
And if you're a Colorado resident, here are the numbers to his local offices:
Clark, CO: 303-650-7820
Greeley, CO: 970-356-5586
Grand Junction, CO: 970-245-9553
Denver, CO: 303-650-7820
Pueblo, CO: 719-542-1701
Durango, CO: 970-247-1047
Colorado Springs, CO: 719-471-3993
Alamosa, CO: 719-589-2101
And feel free to donate to his re-election campaign: