(International Herald Tribune) The CIA has acknowledged for the first time the existence of two classified documents, including a directive signed by President George W. Bush, that have guided the agency’s interrogation and detention of terror suspects. The CIA referred to the documents in a letter sent last Friday from the agency’s associate general counsel, John McPherson, to lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Mystech: Just two years Mr. Bush (barring martial law and suspension of elections) and you’ll be out of power… I think the International War Crimes courts will want to have a word with you, just like Rumsfeld.
The contents of the documents were not revealed, but one of them 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 civil liberties union said, based on its review of published accounts.
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.”
Civil liberties lawyers said they would urge public disclosure of the contents of the documents. “We intend to press for release of both of these documents,” 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 civil liberties union in a suit filed in a court in New York under the Freedom of Information Act. The suit has previously led to the disclosure of thousands of documents from the Defense Department, the FBI, the Justice Department and other agencies.
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 civil liberties union said. The group added that the CIA had said national security would be jeopardized if it were compelled to disclose in any way its involvement in interrogations.
In the CIA letter, McPherson confirmed the existence of the documents but declined to release them, saying that essentially all of their contents were exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act because release would damage national security and violate attorney-client privilege.
The civil liberties organization sought the documents based on references to them in various news accounts. While both documents have been written about before, the CIA had not previously acknowledged their existence.
Bush said in September that 14 terrorism suspects had been moved from secret prisons overseas to the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.