A federal judge ruled Thursday that the Senate’s nearly 7,000-page report on the CIA’s torture practices during interrogations in the wake of 9/11 will not be made public, marking a setback for civil liberties advocates.
So far, Senate leaders have only released the 480-page executive
summary of the so-called torture report, which revealed numerous
gruesome details about the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation
practices. The fate of the full report has been up in the air,
however, since Republicans took control of the Senate during the
most recent midterm elections.
We tortured some folks. But we really don’t want to talk about
it so please stop asking. http://t.co/PSlEfP8E5u
— Manolete John Garcia (@MJGarciaKCMO) May
Washington, DC US District Judge James E. Boasberg, in his
26-page decision, said the complete report compiled by the Senate
Select Committee on Intelligence, and the related “Panetta
review,” are exempt from the dictates of the Freedom
Information Act. He said the Senate Committee report remains
under congressional control and Congress made sure to exempt
itself from FOIA requests.
“Congress has undoubted authority to keep its records secret,
authority rooted in the Constitution, longstanding practice, and
current congressional rules,” Boasberg stated.
Senator Diane Feinstein (D-California), as committee chairwoman
when Democrats controlled the Senate in December 2014, forwarded
a copy of the full report to the CIA and the White House. She
sent a letter to President Barack Obama encouraging him to use
the full report in the future development of CIA programs. Yet
she held off seeking declassification of the full study.
Her successor on the intelligence committee, Sen. Richard Burr
(R-North Carolina), has demanded the Obama administration return
all copies of the final report immediately, and that it “not
be entered into any Executive Branch system of records,”
which would make it susceptible to an FOIA request.
“At the end of the day,” Boasberg wrote, “the
[American Civil Liberties Union] asks the court to interject
itself into a high-profile conversation that has been carried out
in a thoughtful and careful way by the other two branches of
government. As this is no trivial invitation, it should not be
“(The ACLU) and the public may well ultimately gain access to
the document it seeks,” Boasberg added. “But it is not for the
Court to expedite that process.”
The ACLU said it disagrees and was disappointed by the judge’s
“The direct, contemporaneous evidence shows that the full
torture report is subject to FOIA because Congress sent it to the
executive branch with instructions that it be broadly used to
ensure torture never happens again,” Hina Shamsi, director
of the ACLU National Security Project, said in a statement,
according to McClatchy Papers.
“The Senate’s landmark investigation into a dark period of
our nation’s history should not stay behind closed government
doors, but needs to see the light of day.