Cheney's declassification request denied

Memos about the efficacy of torture that the former vice president wants released won't be made public, at least for now.

By Alex Koppelman
Published May 14, 2009 5:00PM (EDT)

Former Vice President Dick Cheney's request that the CIA declassify two memos that he says prove that torture worked in getting valuable information from terror suspects has been denied.

The Weekly Standard's Stephen F. Hayes reports that, in a letter to the National Archives -- which is handling Cheney's request -- a CIA official wrote, "In researching the information in question, we have discovered that it is currently the subject of pending FOIA litigation (Bloche v. Department of Defense, Amnesty International v. Central Intelligence Agency). Therefore, the document is excluded from Mandatory Declassification Review."

Hayes, a Cheney biographer, writes that this "will almost certainly intensify the public back-and-forth between the former vice president and the current administration." That's probably a good indication of what the response from the former vice president and his allies will be, as is a quote he got from an unnamed "senior Bush administration official," who said:

So, because Amnesty International has filed a broad FOIA request for detainee related materials, the American people are unable to see memos that document the effectiveness of our detainee program. Wouldn't the legal memos previously released also, presumably, have been subject to this FOIA? Why wasn't their release blocked under the same provision?

Actually, those memos were released because of a FOIA request.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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