Federal judge rules against releasing Guantanamo interrogation documents

[JURIST] A judge in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] refused [opinion, PDF] Friday to force the Department of Defense (DOD) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official websites] to release non-redacted versions of documents that allegedly describe the torture and abuse of 14 Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees. Judge Royce Lamberth denied a request [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] made by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text], ruling that the documents fell under two exemptions of the FOIA allowing government agencies to keep information classified if allowed by executive order or by statute. Although the court originally ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that the government did not have to release the documents last October, it agreed to rehear the case in light of several subsequent developments, including President Barack Obama's executive orders to end the use of certain enhanced interrogation techniques and close Guantanamo Bay, as well as the government's decision to declassify [JURIST reports] Bush-administration memos outlining the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. In June, the CIA released [JURIST report] redacted versions of the documents, but the ACLU maintained its demand that the agency release non-redacted versions. The ACLU announced that it plans to appeal [press release] the ruling.

Last month, OpenTheGovernment.org [advocacy website] reported that the Obama administration has improved government transparency [JURIST report] over the Bush administration, but there is more that should be done. Also in September, US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] announced [JURIST report] plans to increase transparency in the government's use of its state secrets privilege. That same week, the ACLU filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] requesting information on the treatment of prisoners at Bagram Air Base [JURIST news archive] in Afghanistan. The lawsuit came after a CIA announcement [JURIST report] that the agency would not release any more documents related to the treatment of prisoners at Bagram. In August, the ACLU successfully forced the CIA to release documents [JURIST report] detailing the use of sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation, and physical abuse overseas as interrogation techniques during the Bush administration.



 

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