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DOJ Keeps Government Blind to CIA’s Secret Prison Program

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s $40 million torture report remains sealed by the U.S. State Department. The Department of Justice has instructed Executive Branch officials not to even read the Senate  document to avoid making it subject to public release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

However, Steven Aftergood, director of the Project On Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said federal officials’ access to the Senate report would not make it accessible to the public via FOIA. From a a New York Times article:

“It’s quite bizarre, and I cannot think of a precedent,” said Steven Aftergood… He said there are any number of classified Senate documents that are shared with intelligence agencies and remain as congressional records, even if they are read by members of the executive branch.


The Senate released a declassified summary of the report last year, but the current head of the Intelligence Committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) wants to reclaim the Obama administration’s copies of the report.

The DOJ should encourage federal officials to read the extensive report, as their counterterrorism work is so intrinsically linked to the subject of this report. Encouraging a lack of transparency is one mistake, encouraging ignorance in the executive branch is a whole other mistake.

By: Iulia Gheorghiu
Beth Daley Impact Fellow, POGO

Photo of Iulia Gheorghiu Iulia is the Beth Daley Impact fellow at the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: Open Government

Related Content: FOIA, Defense

Authors: Iulia Gheorghiu

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