The DoJ won't let anyone in the Executive Branch read the CIA Torture Report

The Senate's 6,700 page, $40M report on the CIA's participation in torture has apparently never been read by a single member of the Executive Branch of the US Government, because the Department of Justice has ordered them all to stay away from it.

Why does the DoJ want to keep the Executive from finding out about the CIA's use of torture? Because Senate documents are not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, but Executive documents are, and the DoJ is so pants-wettingly afraid of the public discovering official wrongdoing that they have banned anyone subject to FOIA from touching the document, lest it become subject to transparency rules.

Two of the authors of the report, Senators Feinstein and Leahy have written a furious letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI director James Comey, expressing their fear that the members of the Executive Branch who need to review this document will never get the chance, and that it will be "buried in the back of a handful of Executive Branch safes" forever.

Dear Attorney General Lynch and Director Comey:

We firmly believe that appropriate DOJ and FBI officials must read the full 6,700-page Senate Intelligence Committee Study of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program in order to understand what happened and draw appropriate lessons. This is exactly what Director Comey promised during his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on March 12, 2015, when he said he would designate FBI officials to read the full, final version of the Committee's Study and consider the lessons that can be learned from it. Director Comey also acknowledged that former FBI Director Bob Mueller ordered FBI agents not to participate in the CIA program. Unfortunately, as the executive summary of the Study makes clear, the Department of Justice was among those parts of the Executive Branch that were misled about the program, and DOJ officials' understanding of this history is critical to its institutional role going forward.

We are gravely disappointed that, according to Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik's letter dated August 5, 2015, the Department of Justice is citing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case, ACLU v. CIA as an excuse to refuse to allow Executive Branch officials to review the full and final Study. This DOJ decision prevents the FBI and other parts of the Executive Branch from reading the full 6,700-page Study and learning from the mistakes of the past to ensure that they are not repeated. Further, personnel at the National Archives and Records Administration have stated that, based on guidance from the Department of Justice, they will not respond to questions about whether the Study constitutes a federal record under the Federal Records Act because the FOIA case is pending.

The record in the FOIA case does not support DOJ's decision. According to the court filings in the FOIA case, DOJ represented that it would "preserve the status quo" pending appeal, but the context in which that commitment arose makes clear that DOJ was agreeing not to return the Study to the Senate Intelligence Committee. DOJ's commitment not to return the Study while the FOIA litigation is pending in no way precludes appropriately cleared individuals in the Executive Branch from reading the Study. We urge that you reconsider your position and disseminate the full and final Committee Study to appropriately cleared senior individuals in the Department of Justice and FBI, and instruct other appropriate federal departments to take the same position. For the same reason, we urge you to explicitly commit to retaining copies of the full 6,700-page Study.

DOJ Has Blocked Everyone In The Executive Branch From Reading The Senate's Torture Report
[Mike Masnick/Techdirt]