Tomorrow, the Department of Justice plans to release largely unredacted versions of three Bush-era memorandums that critics suspect contain legal justification for torture and the broad use of executive power during wartime, according to an administration official. The critical question: how much does the administration withhold in the name of national security?
After the Obama administration released nine earlier memorandums, written between 2002 and 2008 by several Justice Department lawyers, the administration asked a judge for more time to review three others, written by a senior Bush administration lawyer, Stephen Bradbury, over several years of Bush's second term. One of those memos reportedly outlines, in detail, the techniques that CIA officers and interrogators can use to extract information from subjects. According to the Wall Street Journal, the government authorized CIA officers to slam a detainee's head against a wall. Memos have since been withdrawn by the Obama administration, which has begun an interagency review on interrogation methods. The memos were obtained from the government by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Journal reported yesterday that the administration was leaning towards a comprehensive redaction of the operational details revealed by a memo, leaving intact the legal analysis used to justify them. That Solomonic compromise would not satisfy civil libertarians and would probably anger many Democrats in Congress. Depending on the scope of the blacked out parts, the administration will be forced to justify its decisions in a federal court, next week. That would put it in the position of having to repeat classification arguments made by the Bush administration in 2007.