DOJ Has Blocked Everyone In The Executive Branch From Reading The Senate’s Torture Report

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.


doj-shh There had been some hope that ex-Senator Mark Udall might choose torelease some of it from the Senate floor before leaving office, but that didn’t happen.

And, with the changing of the guard, the new head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, demanded that all the federal government agencies that received the report should return it to him so he can destroy it and make sure that no one ever sees what’s in the report. As we noted, however, this whole thing seemed to be an effort to state publicly that the document was aCongressional record. That matters because Congressional records are not subject to FOIA requests. Executive branch records are subject to FOIA requests — and the ACLU has made a FOIA request to the exec branch for a copy of the report.