Udall deserves praise for transparency fight

Mark Udall’s bid for re-election may have gotten tougher now that U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner has entered the U.S. Senate race to oppose him, but Udall’s unwavering commitment to transparency at the highest levels of government merits praise from anyone who values liberty and accountability.

Udall, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, made waves last week after telling President Barack Obama that he wouldn’t support the president’s nominee for the general counsel of the CIA.

In a letter to the president, Udall alluded to “unprecedented action” by the CIA against members of the Senate Intelligence Committee in relation to a CIA review. Udall offered no specifics, but earlier in the week the Associated Press reported the CIA inspector general is looking into whether the agency improperly monitored committee members as they reviewed top-secret documents.

“The CIA tried to intimidate the Intelligence Committee, plain and simple,” Udall said. “I’m going to keep fighting like hell to ensure the agency never tries to dodge congressional oversight again.”

In naming Udall the “Truthdigger of the Week,” reporter Alexander Reed Kelly of truthdig.com got to the crux of Udall’s beef about the CIA:

Last December “Udall revealed in an open hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee the existence of a classified internal review the agency conducted of millions of documents covering five years of its Bush-era detention and interrogation activities. The review agrees with the Senate committee’s assessment that torture practices like waterboarding produced little valuable intelligence—but it conflicts with the official conclusion the agency gave both the committee and the public.”

Udall “said the existence of the report ‘raises fundamental questions about why a review the CIA conducted internally years ago — and never provided to the committee — is so different from the CIA’s formal response to the committee study,’” Kelly reported.

Udall has been a vocal opponent of the collection of phone data by the NSA, saying it violates the Constitution. He has urged Obama to adopt reforms.

“It doesn’t fit the standard in the Fourth Amendment of unreasonable search and seizure,” he said. “There has been no abuse, but the potential for abuse is always there, and Americans have always erred on the side of privacy.”

In an election year, Udall’s attempts to hold spying agencies’ feet to the fire may not resonate with voters as much as his record on other hot-button issues, namely Obamacare.

But from where we stand, Udall’s record in this realm — demanding accountability and opposing unreasonable government intrusion — is just as important as tax-and-spend issues because they get to the heart of democracy and faith in our system of governance.


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