DOJ May Skirt Court Order on Interrogation Documents

By
Friday, August 28, 2009 at 6:04 pm
Attorney General Eric Holder (WDCpix)

Attorney General Eric Holder (WDCpix)

The Obama administration may circumvent the spirit of a judge’s order to disclose hundreds of documents relating to the CIA’s Bush-era interrogation program, delivering instead generic descriptions of the documents and legal arguments for continued nondisclosure.

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

While the CIA inspector general’s 2004 report on torture was released  Monday, a tranche of hundreds of supporting documents sought by an ongoing American Civil Liberties Union court case remain unseen. Those include 129 documents that provide some of the source material for the inspector general’s report; 138 other documents from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel about the interrogation program; and a Sept. 17, 2001 presidential order from George W. Bush authorizing the CIA to set up unacknowledged detention facilities around the world. The Justice Department released additional supporting documents earlier this week in addition to the inspector general’s report.

On July 20, Judge Allen Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the government needed to complete a review of the documents for declassification in response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Monday, Aug. 31. “As to the remaining 318 remanded CIA documents, the Government shall complete its processing of those documents by August 31, 2009, such that, on or before that date, the Government shall produce to the plaintiffs any portions of those 318 documents that are appropriate for release under [the Freedom of Information Act],”Hellerstein wrote in an order filed the following day.

But after The Washington Independent reported on the forthcoming disclosure, an administration official who insisted on anonymity emailed to say the report was inaccurate. Asked if there would be any disclosures on Monday, the official responded, “Nope.”

Hellerstein, however, ordered in July that the government had the option of submitting a so-called “Vaughn declaration,” a FOIA term detailing, as Hellerstein wrote, legal reasons “setting forth the justification for withholding the information.” Neither the official nor the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York replied to queries about the reasons for the nondisclosure. Hellerstein’s office, which declined to comment on the record, said the judge’s ruling from July 21 was still in effect and the Justice Department had yet to file any motions to extend the deadline for disclosure.

The ACLU and the Obama administration tussled earlier this year over a date for releasing the documents, with the Justice Department requesting and receiving four delays. In July, the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York, arguing that it couldn’t prepare any documents for declassification before Aug. 31, mused about a compromise. “The OIG report would come out August 24th, and then the remaining documents would come out August 31st,” Sean Lane, a lawyer in the U.S. Attorney’s office, told Hellerstein on July 15.

Lane did not return an email seeking comment on Friday. A Justice Department official emailed to clarify that the agency had released a number of the documents alongside the CIA inspector general’s report on Aug. 24 on a DVD. According to the ACLU’s tally, it had received eight of 137 documents supporting the CIA inspector general’s review and 43 of 181 Office of Legal Counsel documents.

The ACLU said late on Friday afternoon that it expected to receive a Vaughn declaration on Monday and not the documents themselves. “This past week, the Obama administration released documents that shed some much-needed light on theCIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program,” said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s national-security project. “Some of the most crucial documents, though, are still being withheld. The documents that the CIA is required to review for possible release by Monday would, if released, fill in some of the remaining gaps in the public record.”

Rachel Myers, a representative for the ACLU, said the organization expects to continue litigating to receive the still-withheld documents.

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Comments

31 Comments

strangely_enough
Comment posted August 29, 2009 @ 4:32 am

Sounds like they are waiting to synchronize the release with the next expected celebrity death. You see a pattern after a while…


Bolda
Comment posted August 29, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

The DOJ must give the ACLU what it needs to clear the decks for humane questioning and treatment of prisoners. It is wrongheaded to continue any rendition tactics at all. Torture is barbaric, and rendition by any other name still spells torture.


trippin
Comment posted August 29, 2009 @ 1:53 pm

This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there's not one goddamn millimeter of difference between Obama and Bush regarding transparency and accountability.

Protecting a criminal is a crime, Mr. President. That's the law we little people must abide. If I give aid to a murderer, I am liable for prosecution, and it's a felony I'm sure.

If you make yourself a felon, Mr. President, we must call for your impeachment. I voted for you. Unless you honor the commitments you made when you duped me into that silly choice, it won't happen again.


greenport5
Comment posted August 29, 2009 @ 6:45 pm

Aw, come on. I need to see these documents to reinforce my concept of american exceptionalism. Exceptionally conceited, murderous, greedy and exceptionally not
bound by law or morals when it comes to pursuit of wealth, power and lifestyle of the
rich and famous.


Brian
Comment posted August 29, 2009 @ 7:07 pm

Obama, you are a fraud. Law and order rhetoric was only used to attract the base of his party to the polls on election day. He has already joined the Bush Administration in his DOJ's positions relative to so-called State Secret Privilege assertions as it pertains to illegal wiretapping by the NSA and Telcos, torture, and yadda yadda yadda. This is just a continuation of his apparent love affair with the approach the Bush Administration took. It's a travesty.


danfrancis
Comment posted August 29, 2009 @ 7:20 pm

This story and everything surrounding it underscores a couple of things in my mind. I am a former Marine Corps interrogator who is firmly against torture, and I follow this story closely.

1. War crimes were committed… that is painfully obvious.
2. Evidence was detroyed (the CIA videotapes of harsh sessions) – btw: isn't that a crime, too?
3. Torture does not work and the stroy in the WaPo about value of KSM's info underscores that point. (i.e., no ticking bombs were defused – that only happens on “24″).
4. Government is loaded with fancy lawyers who write the slick rules and then know exactly how to go around them, over them, through them, or how to ignore them.

Write the rules — so, it follows they can break the rules. This is not justice, equal or otherwise, under law — it's a pathetic joke.


robertsfinnegan
Comment posted August 30, 2009 @ 12:25 am

This is proof that Amerika is no longer a land of laws. I am a former Marine Corps NCO and have obeyed the law and the UCMJ my entire life… up until now.

Since the DOJ can now pull a Bush/Cheney – because they got away with it – then it looks to me like We The People don't have to obey ANY laws in the future. GREAT! I am starting my own crime wave today…. no tax payments, no jury duty and the first cop that pulls a taser on me will find it turned around and blasted at him/her. That's for starters.

Anarchy, I love t. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Robert S. Finnegan
Southeastasia Independent Media
rsfinnegan@gmail.com
http://www.southeastasiaindependentmedia.com
Jakarta


The Washington Independent » DOJ May Skirt Court Order on … | My-Song Articles
Pingback posted August 30, 2009 @ 1:40 am

[...] They’ll drag it out a little longer and then we’ll be into (cue the serious music) “Swine Flue 2009″, they’ll release something on a Friday while we’re forced into lines to get shots we don’t need. Just wait. … Protecting a criminal is a crime, Mr. President. That’s the law we little people must abide. If I give aid to a murderer, I am liable for prosecution, and it’s a felony I’m sure. If you make yourself a felon, Mr. President, we must call for your impeachment. … View original post here: The Washington Independent » DOJ May Skirt Court Order on … [...]


sandiegowoman
Comment posted August 30, 2009 @ 12:59 am

Why not? bush/cheney = obama/biden


Joe Schmoe
Comment posted August 30, 2009 @ 4:26 am

They'll drag it out a little longer and then we'll be into (cue the serious music) “Swine Flue 2009″, they'll release something on a Friday while we're forced into lines to get shots we don't need. Just wait… I'm tellin' ya.


Sylvie
Comment posted August 30, 2009 @ 8:00 am

If the government does not follow the law, why should you?


johnhkennedy
Comment posted August 30, 2009 @ 1:50 pm

“Obama administration may circumvent the spirit of a judge’s order”. This is not the “CHANGE” We Voters wanted.

KEEP ASKING ALL POLITICIANS AT ALL PUBLIC EVENTS

“WHY DO YOU SUPPORT TORTURE?”
If they aren't actively calling for enforcement of our Federal Torture Laws,
They DO Support Torture.

SIGN THE PETITIONS
Demanding
both a Commission of Inquiry
and prosecution for all those leaders
in Bush's Administration that
Conspired to Torture at ANGRYVOTERS.ORG

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Only Prosecution Stops Torture!
Only Prosecution Stops Abuse of Power and
of Our Constitution and Rule Of Law


pcafe
Comment posted August 30, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

What would you have done to get information, considering the devastation of 9/11 and the FACT that potential subsequent attacks were averted due to information obtained by various interrogations?

Perhaps the interrogations were not related to 9/11 but they were efforts to obtain information about terrorist organizations.
I really would like to know what the alternatives were.


ostrom808
Comment posted August 30, 2009 @ 4:40 pm

Apparently you have not read any of the accounts by Ali Soufan, American FBI interrogator who WAS getting info from Abu Zubaidah in Thailand prior to the CIA stepping on the FBI's toes and initiating the torture regime. His weapon? Using kindness and fostering trust between himself and AZ. That is how real interrogators work, in the real world. Ask at any police department, or FBI office.

Read at this link ;http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/opinion/23soufan.html


Irish_Wake
Comment posted August 31, 2009 @ 2:08 pm

I am intrigued by your assertion …”the FACT that potential subsequent attacks were averted…”

This statement is misleading, but I am sure it is unintentional. Expanding threats to include 'potential' attacks is how we entered this legal quagmire. Suspicion of a potential attack is not proof of guilt, it is a suspicion that should be investigated for evidence. Supporting evidence is evaluated for veracity and whether it supports the suspicion. Cheney's “1% Solution” makes the slightest suspicion an excuse for military action.

I suspect you may be correct in your assertion that torture may have averted attacks. However, you may be confusing the meaning of 'fact' with 'declaration'. Are there any facts to support your declaration that attacks were averted?


JAQUEBAUER
Comment posted September 1, 2009 @ 8:01 am

The ACLU is, in my opinion is a criminal organization conspiring to destroy the defenses of the United states. Therefore, it should be investigated by the DOJ and then shut down. Eric Holder is doing nothing to help, and I believe he is a racist motivated to destroy our national intelligence capability. Of course Holder works for the communist mastermind Obama, a modern day communist community organizer, and street thug from Chicago.
The nation is at a turning point……….you can buy in to the presidents commie left wing agenda that will destroy the United States as we know it, or to use their revolutionary strategy against them, and destroy Obama's illegal government. I believe Obama and his gang of thugs have broken many laws as they march onward toward their planned destruction of America.
I believe the citizens of this great country will resist with whatever means necessary Obama's plans and actions.
Wake up America before its too late. Oppose Obama and his thugs, Fight back. We can take America back.


Name
Comment posted September 1, 2009 @ 4:11 pm

Presumption of guilt without proof, racism, destruction of intelligence, commies, thugs, illegal gov't, accusations of breaking various unspecified laws, resistance by any means necessary.

You don't need to use a pseudonym, Mr. Cheney.


Eyepublius
Comment posted September 1, 2009 @ 11:59 pm

I would have used every technique in the books – but NOT torture…. Best example: Abu Zubaydah captured in Pakistan in early 2002. FBI supervisor and interrogator, Mr. Ali Soufan flew there to interrogate him – got him talking in an hour and did not lay a finger on him…. and Zubaydah gave up KSM and his location that led to his capture.

That's what works – not waterboarding. The pros know – and I am one. Regards. Dan Francis

In a message dated 08/30/09 12:28:36 Eastern Daylight Time, writes:
pcafe wrote, in response to Eyepublius:

What would you have done to get information, considering the devastation of 9/11 and the FACT that potential subsequent attacks were averted due to information obtained by various interrogations?

Perhaps the interrogations were not related to 9/11 but they were efforts to obtain information about terrorist organizations.

I really would like to know what the alternatives were.

Link to comment: http://disq.us/7e25


You may reply to this email to post your response. To turn off notifications, go to your Disqus settings at: http://disqus.com/settings/notifications/


Free of State » Blog Archive » DOJ May Skirt Court Order on Interrogation Documents
Pingback posted September 3, 2009 @ 3:30 pm

[...] by: Spencer Ackerman  |  Visit article original @ The Washington Independent [...]


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Obama administration seeks to keep terror watch-list and Bush-era detainee information secret « The Lift – Legal Issues in the Fight against Terrorism
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