WASHINGTON — A federal judge ruled Friday in a case on detainees at Guantanamo Bay that the government can maintain the secrecy of portions of some records that allegedly describe torture and abuse.
The American Civil Liberties Union has been seeking release of the material under the Freedom of Information Act on 14 detainees who went before U.S. military panels at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth based his ruling on a 42-page CIA affidavit asserting that the government was not concealing any violations of law when it classified parts of the detainees' statements.
The ACLU pointed out that the judge did not review the actual classified material before making his decision.
Lamberth said court review of the actual documents is unnecessary because the CIA's declaration is sufficiently detailed.
The court's ruling allows the government to protect current and former government officials from accountability by continuing to suppress first-hand accounts of torture, Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, said in a statement.
In keeping some of the material secret, the government invoked exemptions in the FOIA that protect the identities of intelligence sources, intelligence methods and protect the confidentiality of records that have been properly designated as classified.
The material at issue in the lawsuit has been reviewed twice – once by the administration of President George W. Bush and once by the Obama administration, which went further than the Bush administration by releasing additional material.