Smoking Gun(s)

Twosmoking gun memos tie Bush and the Department of Justice directly to CIA torture.

After years of denials, the CIA has formally acknowledged the existence of two classified documents governing aggressive interrogation and detention policies for terrorism suspects, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

But CIA lawyers say the documents — memos from President Bush and the Justice Department — are still so sensitive that no portion can be released to the public.

The disclosures by the CIA general counsel’s office came in a letter Friday to attorneys for the ACLU. The group had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New York two years ago under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking records related to U.S. interrogation and detention policies.


Friday’s letter from John L. McPherson, the CIA’s associate general counsel, lists two documents that pertain to the ACLU’s records request.

The ACLU describes the first as a “directive” signed by Bush governing CIA interrogation methods or allowing the agency to set up detention facilities outside the United States. McPherson describes it as a “memorandum.” In September, Bush confirmed the existence of secret CIA prisons and transferred 14 remaining terrorism suspects from them to Guantanamo Bay.

The second document is an August 2002 legal memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to the CIA general counsel. The ACLU describes it as “specifying interrogation methods that the CIA may use against top al-Qaeda members.” (This document is separate from another widely publicized Justice memo, also issued in August 2002, that narrowed the definition of torture. The Justice Department has since rescinded the latter.)

The ACLU relied on media reports to identify and describe the two documents, but the CIA and other agencies had not previously confirmed their existence. McPherson wrote that neither document can be released to the public for reasons of security and attorney-client privilege.


Amrit Singh, one of the ACLU’s attorneys on the case, said the disclosures may make it easier for the group to argue in favor of releasing the documents.

“For more than three years, they’ve refused to even confirm or deny the existence of these records,” Singh said, referring to the group’s initial document request in October 2003. “The fact that they’re now choosing to do so confirms that their position was unjustified from the start. . . . Now we can begin to actually litigate the release of these documents.”

9 thoughts on “Smoking Gun(s)

  1. >>But CIA lawyers say the documents — memos from President Bush and the Justice Department — are still so sensitive that no portion can be released to the public.
    there’s something in there that’s worse than the president authorizing torture? holy shit.
    -dan mcenroe

  2. New definition of “top secret” classifications: anything that proves the president has committed a “high crime” or war crime. That makes good sense actually. It is the president who, through delegation, determines the classification of materials, so of course the personal effect those materials have on the president is very germane. Unfortunately, this “logic” leads down some very dark paths if followed much further.

  3. Holy shit is right. I can’t even wrap my mind around what could possibly be worse than the prez authorizing torture.
    They don’t want this shit out there because of the war crimes. Germany has already set their sights on Rummy, they don’t want them seeing any documents that would make them look at Dim Son.

  4. War crimes, bitches! May we live to see these people held accountable for all the evil they have done. So the “smoking gun” isn’t a mushroom cloud after all…

  5. I am so tired of the damned secrecy of this administration! Everything is classified, everything is top secret, everything relates to National Security (bow when you say those words), and nothing can be revealed to the American People — for our own protection, you understand.
    I am SO looking forward to getting some of these deep dark secrets aired out, and reverting back to the normal and logical definition of state secrets and classified information.

  6. Why didn’t the Bushies get the Freedom of Information Act repealed (“because it helps the terorists!!”) when they had the chance? For such evil geniuses, a pretty big mistake.
    – robertearle

  7. We know tha tthe president directly authorized torture of innocent detainees. How long will it take before that looses its sensitivity enough that it can be released to the public?
    It may have been John Stewart the other night or maybe Olbermann that made a remark on the suit in Germany against Rummy. They found a certain irony in the fact that events have proceeded so far that Germany is suing the US for war crimes.

  8. As to the question of when will the time come that the documents can be released to the public, I think we have heard the answer from Our Dear Leader many times before … when we’ve won the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism.
    The story he tries to sell us: See, if the terrorists know what techniques have been authorized, then they can train themselves to resist them. (Personally, that’s always seemed like so much bullshit to me, but what do I know?) A clear corollary would be that the government can’t release those memos until we no longer need to be torturing, ummm, interrogating suspected terrorists.
    Bottom line: More power to ya, ACLU, but I’m not holding my breath about those documents surfacing any time soon.

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