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CIA director says release of interrogation documents would harm national security

[JURIST] Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] Leon Panetta [official profile] said Monday that the release of agency documents describing detainee interrogations would damage national security [affidavit, PDF]. In an affidavit filed with the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website], Panetta said that the release of CIA records would be more inflammatory than Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] memos [JURIST report] authorizing enhanced interrogation techniques [JURIST news archive] because they pertain to actual interrogations, whereas the memos were purely theoretical. Panetta also defended the destruction of 92 videotapes [JURIST news archive] of terrorism suspect interrogations, and the classification of records about the tapes, because their disclosure would implicate sources and methods of gathering intelligence.

Panetta filed the affidavit in connection with a lawsuit [ACLU materials] brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] in 2003 seeking the disclosure of all information related to detainees held overseas by the United States under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text]. Last month, US President Barack Obama defended his decision [JURIST reports] not to disclose Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] photographs and other documents related to detainee treatment. The ACLU's suit has resulted in the release of numerous government documents, including redacted memos [text, PDF; text, PDF; text, PDF; text, PDF], authored by the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) [official website], which provided the legal rational for CIA interrogation techniques.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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