Ruling Shows Government Obfuscated on CIA Interrogation Techniques

A court ruling that the CIA had interpreted Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests on specific interrogation techniques too narrowly must be followed by further disclosures by the government, said three prominent human rights groups.

The groups—Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at NYU School of Law—welcomed the ruling, which rejected the CIA’s refusal to search for documents pertaining to the “attention grasp” because plaintiffs had used the term “attention shake” in their FOIA request.  The “attention grasp” was acknowledged in the Office of Legal Council (OLC) memos as one of ten interrogation techniques used on CIA detainees.

“We applaud the Court’s ruling that the government’s reading was too narrow, but this was just one instance of countless where the CIA read our request too narrowly or likely went to great lengths to avoid disclosure of sensitive and publicly important information about its interrogation program,” said CCR Staff attorney, Gitanjali S. Guttierez. “The CIA continues to fail to abide by the basic principles of accountability in favor of secrecy and deception in matters that the American public deserves to know the truth about. We hope that this ruling will be a first step toward long-overdue transparency.”

The groups have ongoing FOIA litigation against other government agencies seeking information about individuals who are—or have been—held by the U.S. government or detained with U.S. involvement as part of the government’s ghost detention, rendition, and coercive interrogation program.

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