Tuesday, June 22, 2004

White House Releasing Interrogation File [AP]

White House General Counsel Alberto Gonzales will reportedly brief the news media later today on the contents of a stack of papers that is being released relating to the deliberations for setting the rules on interrogations. The story says that the administration decided to release the documents to fight "the constant drip on this issue."

The disclosure may have an unintended legal consequence--if the administration has cherry-picked the documents they released and are still withholding others, they may have a hard time raising any executive or other privilege to prevent those documents from being withheld. As a matter of fact, now would be an opportune time for someone to file a "Freedom of Information Act" request with the Whitehouse demanding all documents on that subject that do not fall within some exception (like national security).

Update: On further deliberation (and actually reading over the language of FOIA, especially 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(5)) I highly doubt that an ordinary citizen could get at the documents that the government failed to include in its two-inch stack released today. That provision exempts:

inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency.

But Congress could still subpoena the Executive for that information (yeah, that'll happen).

No comments: