Washington, June 9 (ANI): The Obama administration has objected to the release of certain Bush-era documents that detail the videotaped interrogations of al Qaeda detainees at secret prisons, arguing before a federal judge that doing so would endanger national security and benefit the terrorist network's recruitment efforts.
In an affidavit, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta defended the classification of records describing the contents of the 92 videotapes, their destruction by the CIA in 2005 and what he called "sensitive operational information" about the interrogations.
The forced disclosure of such material to the American Civil Liberties Union "could be expected to result in exceptionally grave damage to the national security by informing our enemies of what we knew about them, and when, and in some instances, how we obtained the intelligence we possessed," Panetta argued.
Panetta's statement represents a new assertion by the Obama administration that the CIA should be allowed to keep such information secret.
Bush's critics have long hoped that disclosure would pinpoint responsibility for actions they contend were abusive or illegal.
Last month, President Obama said he would seek to bar the release of photographs being sought by other non-profit groups that depict abusive interrogations at military prisons during the Bush administration.
He asked U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein to draw a legal distinction between the administration's release in April of Justice Department memos authorizing the harsh interrogations and the CIA's desire to keep classified its own documents detailing the specific handling of detainees at its secret facilities overseas.
Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's national security program, said yesterday evening that it is "grim" and "troubling" for the Obama administration to say that information about purported abuses should be withheld because it might fuel anti-American propaganda.
He said that amounts to an assertion that "the greater the abuse, the more important it is that it should remain secret."
In total, the CIA has said that 580 documents are related to the ACLU's 2007 request. (ANI)