The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Naomi Seligman 202.408.5565

CREW Lawsuit Results in Release of Portions of Former VP Cheney's Interview With FBI in Wilson Leak Investigation


Today, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered the
release of records of former Vice President Cheney's interview with the
FBI in the Valerie Plame Wilson leak investigation. Under the Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA), CREW had sued the Department of Justice
(DOJ) seeking release of the records. Judge Sullivan agreed
with CREW that because the investigation is now over the Department of
Justice (DOJ) cannot withhold all documents based on an exemption that
protects law enforcement records from disclosure. Judge Sullivan
rejected DOJ's argument that future White House officials would be
unwilling to cooperate with law enforcement inquiries if these records
were released.

The Court agreed, however, with the DOJ's view that portions of the
records are privileged, meaning they do not have to be released,
because some discuss internal agency deliberations, while others
reflect communications between the president and vice-president.
Paragraphs 6 and 8 of the Declaration of David J. Barron
detail the information DOJ can withhold. Although CREW had argued Vice
President Cheney had waived the privileges by agreeing to the interview
with no preconditions, Judge Sullivan disagreed.

Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, stated, "Judge Sullivan
rightly rejected a Justice Department interpretation of the FOIA that
would have allowed the government to withhold virtually any law
enforcement record even where an investigation has long since been
concluded." Sloan continued, "We are disappointed, however, that the
judge allowed DOJ to withhold portions of some records because the
American people deserve to know the truth about the role the vice
president played in exposing Mrs. Wilson's covert identity. High-level
government officials should not be permitted to hide their misconduct
from public view."

On March 19, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder issued guidance
directing agencies not to withhold information under the FOIA just
because they can do so legally. The attorney general quoted President
Barack Obama's January 21, 2009 directive, which stated, "The
Government should not keep information confidential merely because
public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and
failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract

Although DOJ has won the right to withhold some material, CREW calls
on Attorney General Holder to make good on DOJ's commitment to
transparency by disclosing even those materials the court found can
legally be withheld.

Read Judge Sullivan's memorandum opinion here and order here.

Read David J. Barron's declaration here.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.