May 21, 2015
Court sides with CIA, ‘torture’ reports to stay secret
May 21, 2015
WASHINGTON — The CIA can keep
secret a nearly 7,000-page Senate report on harsh interrogation methods,
as well as an internal agency review, a federal judge has ruled.
complete 6,963-page report compiled by the Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence, and the related “Panetta review,” are exempt from the
dictates of the Freedom of Information Act, U.S. District Judge James E.
Though noting that “this case is no slam dunk for the government,” Boasberg in his 26-page decision Wednesday
rejected the ACLU’s arguments for disclosure. The Senate committee
report, he reasoned, remained a document under congressional control,
and Congress made sure to exempt itself from FOIA.
undoubted authority to keep its records secret, authority rooted in the
Constitution, longstanding practice, and current congressional rules,”
The fact that the Senate intelligence panel had
forwarded a copy of the full report to the CIA, Boasberg added, “should
not be readily interpreted to suggest more wholesale abdication of
Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project, voiced disappointment in the ruling.
direct, contemporaneous evidence shows that the full torture report is
subject to the FOIA because Congress sent it to the executive branch
with instructions that it be broadly used to ensure torture never
happens again,” Shamsi said in a statement. “The Senate’s landmark
investigation into a dark period in our nation’s history should not stay
behind closed government doors, but needs to see the light of day.”
But the current Senate committee chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said he was pleased.
release of this highly classified document will compromise the national
security of the United States and needlessly put Americans lives at
risk,” Burr said.
its a June 2009 letter to the CIA, the Senate committee specified that
the documents it generated during its investigation “remain
congressional records in their entirety and disposition” and that
“control over these records, even after the completion of the
Committee’s review,” would “lie exclusively with the Committee.”
the end of the day,” Boasberg wrote, “the ACLU asks the court to
interject itself into a high-profile conversation that has been carried
out in a thoughtful and careful way by the other two branches of
government. As this is no trivial invitation, it should not be blithely
(The ACLU) and the public may well ultimately gain
access to the document it seeks,” Boasberg added. “But it is not for the
Court to expedite that process.”
Boasberg more quickly dismissed
the related FOIA request for the agency’s internal “Panetta review,”
noting a previous FOIA request for the documents by journalist Jason
Leopold had likewise been rejected.