CIA refuses to release torture documents
By John Byrne
Published: September 1, 2009
Updated 1 day ago
The Central Intelligence Agency has refused to turn over documents they were ordered to produce to a civil rights group under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
A federal judge ordered the agency to produce the documents — relating to the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program and secret prisons — by Monday, or provide a justification for withholding them. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Obama’s Justice Department has refused to provide more documents. The Department had been instructed to release a presidential directive authorizing CIA “black sites” as well as CIA inspector general (IG) records and documents from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel regarding the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
In a filing Monday, the CIA said they wouldn’t turn over the documents, claiming their publication would threaten national security.
“The CIA’s justification for withholding the documents is entirely incompatible with the Obama administration’s stated commitment to ending torture and restoring governmental transparency,’ said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project, in a release. “On the one hand, President Obama has publicly recognized that torture undermines the rule of law and America’s standing in the world, but on the other, the CIA continues to argue in court that it cannot disclose information about its torture techniques because it would jeopardize the CIA’s interrogation program.”
“The CIA’s arguments are utterly disconnected from the Obama administration’s stated positions,” Jaffer added. “The agency seems to be disregarding altogether the important policy changes that President Obama announced immediately after he took office.”
The CIA also posited that the public should only be told about the “historical context” and “legal underpinnings” of the alleged torture program, even though the government has already released documents that provide detailed insight into the interrogations.
Among those documents already released include a CIA IG report on the CIA’s interrogation tactics, a December 2004 CIA background paper giving a detailed official description of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program and a 2007 OLC memo describing “enhanced interrogation techniques” to be used against prisoners then in CIA custody.
Alex Abdo, a legal fellow with the ACLU’s National Security Project, said, “The Obama administration must fulfill its commitment to transparency and release all crucial documents that would shed further light on the origins and scope of the Bush administration’s torture program. The American public has a right to know the full truth about the torture that was committed in its name.”
The government’s filing is available here. Raw Story