CIA Refuses To Disclose Interrogation Tape Documents
Director Panetta Says Information About Bush Programs Could Be Used As "Propaganda"
WASHINGTON - In
another attempt to avoid public and judicial scrutiny of the Bush
administration torture program, CIA Director Leon Panetta argued that
records related to the destruction and content of interrogation tapes
should be withheld in their entirety. In documents filed yesterday in
an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
lawsuit, Director Panetta argued that the documents in question should
not be released because they contain information about the actual
implementation of "enhanced interrogation techniques," as opposed to
abstract information about the techniques such as that included in
Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos released earlier this year.
Director Panetta also argued that the release of this information could
be used as "ready-made" propaganda by our enemies.
"The public has a right to know not
only which interrogation methods were authorized but how those unlawful
methods were actually applied," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the
ACLU National Security Project. "This information is particularly
important because documents that are already public suggest that
interrogators disregarded even the minimal limits that the memos set
In April, a federal judge rejected
the CIA's attempt to withhold records relating to the agency's
destruction of 92 videotapes that depicted the harsh interrogation of
CIA prisoners. The ACLU is seeking disclosure of these records as part
of its pending motion to hold the CIA in contempt for destroying the
tapes, which violated a court order requiring it to produce or identify
records responsive to the ACLU's FOIA request for records relating to
the treatment of prisoners held in U.S. custody overseas. The
government continues to withhold the documents in their entirety and
argues that not even one sentence of the documents can be made public.
"The CIA's withholding of documents
because they might be used as propaganda would justify the greatest
governmental suppression of the worst governmental misconduct. If we
accept the CIA's rationale, the government could, for example, suppress
any document discussing torture, Abu Ghraib or Guantánamo Bay," said
Alex Abdo, a fellow with the ACLU National Security Project. "Certain
governmental information must of course remain classified for security
reasons, but terrorists should not have a veto power over what the
public is allowed to know about governmental misconduct."
Attorneys on the case are Jaffer,
Judy Rabinovitz and Amrit Singh of the national ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg
and Beth Haroules of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Lawrence S.
Lustberg and Jenny Brooke Condon of the New Jersey-based law firm
Gibbons P.C.; and Shayana Kadidal and Michael Ratner of the Center for
More information about the ACLU's FOIA and contempt motion, including the CIA's filings, are online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.