Citing national security concerns, the Central Intelligence Agency is refusing to divulge dozens of documents in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit surrounding its torture and rendition program adopted in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
The withholding of documents dating to President George W. Bush’s administration leaves to the imagination just how damaging are those papers, one of which is a classified presidential directive authorizing CIA “black sites,” or secret prisons.
That’s because the government has already released reports detailing abusive interrogation techniques including waterboarding and sleep deprivation. Among other things, the government has also divulged its legal rational for its torture program.
Yet the CIA told a federal judge late Monday in an ongoing American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that there likely would be no more documents forthcoming. “The documents at issue contain information that implicates intelligence activities, sources, and methods, and information relating to the foreign relations and activities of the United States,” Wendy Hilton, a CIA officer, wrote (.pdf) to U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York, who is presiding over a FOIA lawsuit.
Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said the CIA’s position “is entirely incompatible with the Obama administration’s stated commitment to ending torture and restoring governmental transparency.”
Jaffer said in a statement that 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.”
Hilton, an associate information review CIA officer, wrote that the information sought “is classified, as its unauthorized disclosure could reasonably be expected to result in serious or exceptionally grave damage to the national security.”
Among other things, here’s what the government’s wants kept secret:
“The classified and otherwise protected information at issue includes information concerning the capture, detention, confinement, and interrogation of known and suspected terrorists. The information impacting foreign relations contained within the documents includes the locations of CIA intelligence activities overseas and the assistance provided by certain foreign governments in furtherance of those activities.”
The ACLU has won the release of parts or all of about five dozen documents.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
CIA at Odds With Obama Over Torture, ACLU Claims