FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: D.C. Circuit agrees that 'torture report' is not subject to FOIA

FOIA News (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Appeals court won't order release of 'torture report'

By Josh Gerstein, Politico, May 13, 2016

A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling that the Obama administration need not release the unabridged version of a Senate Intelligence Committee report that sharply criticized the Central Intelligence Agency’s treatment of terror suspects aggressively interrogated in the years after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the Senate had not relinquished control over the report when it sent copies of the document to various executive branch agencies, like the CIA and the Justice Department. Therefore, those agencies were under no obligation to fulfill Freedom of Information Act requests for the full report, Judge Harry Edwards wrote on behalf of Judges David Tatel and Sri Srinivasan.

“On the record before us, the Senate Committee’s intent to retain control of the Full Report is clear. The Full Report therefore remains a congressional document that is not subject to disclosure under FOIA,” Edwards wrote.

The appeals court’s decision also called “eminently well-reasoned” a lower court’s opinion holding that the full report was still essentially a legislative record and not an agency record that can be requested under FOIA.

Read more here.