Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The Central Intelligence Agency has acknowledged for the first time the existence of two classified documents, including one signed by President George W. Bush, that have guided the agency's interrogation and detention of terror suspects.
The CIA disclosed the existence of the documents in a letter Friday sent from the agency's associate general counsel, John McPherson, to lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union.
The contents of the documents were not revealed, but one document, as described by the ACLU, is "a directive signed by President Bush granting the CIA the authority to set up detention facilities outside the United States and outlining interrogation methods that may be used against detainees."
The second document, according to the group is a Justice Department legal analysis "specifying interrogation methods that the CIA may use against top Al Qaeda members."
ACLU lawyers said they would now press for public disclosure of the contents of the documents.
"We intend to press for release of both of these documents," said Jameel Jaffer, a lawyer for the group said in a statement.
"If President Bush and the Justice Department authorized the CIA to torture prisoners, the public has a right to know."
A spokesman for the CIA declined to discuss the matter.
The documents had been sought by the ACLU in a lawsuit filed in a New York federal court under the Freedom of Information Act. The suit has previously resulted in the disclosure of thousands of documents from agencies like the Pentagon, the FBI and the Justice Department.
In the past, CIA lawyers have sought to avoid any discussion of whether the agency had documents related to its interrogation and detention practices. The agency has said that national security would be jeopardized in the CIA was compelled to disclose in any way its involvement in interrogations, the ACLU said.
In the CIA letter, McPherson confirmed the documents but declined to divulge their contents, on the ground that divulging them would damage security and violate attorney-client privilege.