The American Civil Liberties Union isn't satisfied with the heavily redacted Justice Department ethics report on the so-called torture memos and is planning to challenge the department for blacking out chunks of text.
Back in January, the ACLU sued Justice in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in a complaint demanding the release of the ethics inquiry into opinions written by former Justice attorneys Jay Bybee and John Yoo of the Office of Legal Counsel.
The House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 19 released a copy of the Office of Professional Responsibility’s final report—261 pages excluding attachments and accompanying investigative papers and memos. The published report is laced with redactions. Some entire pages are blacked out.
An ACLU lawyer said today the organization has not been provided a Justice Department document that identifies and defends the redactions. A person or group seeking access to records can litigate redactions under Freedom of Information Act standards.
Yesterday, senior trial counsel Jacqueline Coleman Snead of Justice’s Federal Programs Branch said in response to the January suit that Justice considers the litigation over since the report has been published. The department’s response to the suit does not mention the redactions. Snead wasn’t immediately reached for comment today.
Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich of the Office of Legislative Affairs said in a Feb. 19 letter to the House Judiciary Committee that the redactions include “classified and limited internal deliberative information.” Weich also said some text was redacted to protect privacy “although these enclosed documents still implicate significant individual privacy interests.”
Judge Rosemary Collyer today set a March 11 deadline for a briefing schedule in the case.