[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] Wednesday claimed the refusal of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] to release two Department of Justice memos points to a cover-up of unlawful abuse. The memos, which discuss interrogation methods and a presidential order concerning the CIA's authorization to set up detention facilities outside the United States, were requested as a result of an ongoing lawsuit against the CIA by the ACLU and four other organizations under the Freedom of Information Act [text; DOJ materials]. The CIA filed a declaration [PDF text] with the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] in an attempt to avoid releasing the memos by citing national security.
The government claimed that "disclosure of such information reasonably could be expected to result in extremely grave damage to the national security...by revealing to our adversaries the counterterrorism playbook that the CIA intended to employ with them." In response, ACLU attorney Amrit Singh stated [press release]:
The CIA's declaration uses national security as a pretext for withholding evidence that high-level government officials in all likelihood authorized abusive techniques that amount to torture. This declaration is especially disturbing because it suggests that unlawful interrogation techniques cleared by the Justice Department for use by the CIA still remain in effect. The American public has a right to know how the government is treating its prisoners.Last week, FBI documents were released [JURIST report; ACLU press release] in response to a public records request [ACLU materials] by the ACLU that reported numerous instances of military personnel and contractors using harsh interrogation practices at the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], including wrapping a detainee's head in duct tape and a female guard wiping menstrual blood on detainees' faces. AFP has more.