Update in ACLU Torture FOIA Lawsuit

August 19, 2005 12:00 am

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Following a two-hour closed hearing in New York on August 15, a federal judge ordered the government to reveal blacked-out portions of its legal papers arguing against the release of images depicting abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib. The government has told the court it will not appeal the decision and will release the documents in their entirety sometime next week.

The court will next hear arguments on August 30 to determine whether the Defense Department must release 87 photographs and four videos depicting abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib. After unsuccessfully invoking the Geneva Conventions to block the release of the images, the government is now citing a legal provision that permits the withholding of records “compiled for law enforcement purposes,” that “could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.”

In a friend-of-the-court brief submitted in the case, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and several media outlets and associations, including CBS Broadcasting, NBC Universal, The Hearst Corporation, The New York Times Co. and the American Society of Newspaper Editors, object to “the government’s misdirected effort to undermine the [Freedom of Information Act] by asserting, in essence, that its own misconduct has created an indictment too damning for the public to see.” Read the brief at http://action.aclu.org/torturefoia/legal/amicus080305.pdf.

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