Court Rules Government Can Continue to Hide Detainee Torture Testimony
A federal court today ruled that the government can continue to suppress transcripts of former CIA prisoners now being held at Guantanamo Bay talking about abuse and torture they suffered in CIA custody. The ruling came in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to obtain transcripts from the Defense Department’s Combatant Status Review Tribunals, which were used to determine if Guantanamo detainees qualify as “enemy combatants.”
The government had produced the transcripts with heavy redactions that largely concealed the detainees’ claims that they were abused and tortured during interrogations.
In August, the government argued to the court that it should be allowed to continue to redact the documents, because releasing the information in them would reveal “intelligence sources and methods” and might aid enemy “propaganda.”
Today, Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia refused the ACLU’s request that he review the documents privately in his chambers to determine if they should remain classified.
ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner said after the ruling that the court is allowing the government to suppress the evidence “not to protect any legitimate national security interest, but to protect current and former government officials from accountability.”
He added that the records requested are important because they would provide “critical missing information about how the CIA’s torture program was actually carried out and whether interrogators followed, or exceeded, Justice Department legal guidance that purported to authorize brutal interrogations.”
Wizner said the ACLU would appeal today’s ruling.