The White House may try to release a censored version of the ‘Bradbury’ memos, covering up ‘certain operational details of interrogations.’ ACLU calls the move ‘inconsistent’ with Obama’s ‘promise of transparency’
By Jeremy Scahill
As criticism builds over the Obama administration’s position continuing or defending repressive Bush-era policies, Thursday will present a key test of how commited the Obama administration is to publicly revealing details of the Bush administration’s torture program. That’s the deadline the Justice Department faces in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU seeking to force the White House to make public three 2005 memos written by Steven Bradbury, acting head of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) from 2005 to 2009 under President Bush. The memos are believed to detail Justice Department legal justifications for torture, including water-boarding and the banging of prisoners’ heads against walls.
As previously reported, the Obama administration has been debating whether to release the memos or to release them redacted. The CIA has argued releasing the memos would threaten US national security, while rights groups and some administration officials believe the public has a right to read the memos.
Now it appears the “Obama administration is expected to release some operational details of a Central Intelligence Agency interrogation program and its legal rationale, while seeking to keep secret the names of detainees and the way techniques were applied to particular prisoners,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “An announcement is expected Thursday on the release of memorandums in which Department of Justice lawyers gave legal guidance on CIA interrogations.”
According to the paper, official are “still deliberating what portions” of the memos would be released. Two officials said the White House plans to “propose redacting parts of the memos,” including “certain operational details of interrogations.”
The ACLU shot back at the report. Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project, said:
“The new Justice Department should turn over unredacted versions of these memos, not blacked out versions that cover up critical information. The information in these memos is vital to the historical record and to informing the public about what actions were carried out in its name. The release of the memos is also crucial to holding officials accountable for authorizing torture. Withholding this information would be completely inconsistent with the Obama administration’s promise of transparency and its commitment to turn the page on the abuses of the last eight years.”
If the administration attempts to redact the memos instead of handing them over to the ACLU unredacted, it will reportedly need a judge’s approval.