How to Exempt Torture From FOIA

Say what you will about the wisdom of Joe Lieberman’s attempts to get Congress to pass a special law that would allow the government to stop any further release of photographic evidence of abused detainees under the Freedom of Information Act.

At least it’s an honest way to flout the law, and not a cynical misapplication of precedent, like the thin legal arguments the Obama administration turned to after reversing its agreement—reached after a string of court defeats—to release a set of photos sought by the ACLU. While Lieberman’s carve out would grant the administration an unassailable right to sit on the photos, the government’s new line in court relies on an exemption to FOIA that not even the Bush administration thought would work, and are likely only to delay release by tying the issue up for a few more years.

Adam Serwer of The American Prospect has a bit more on Lieberman’s move here, which is something of a replay of a suggestion he and Republican Lindsey Graham made back in May, just after the Obama administration’s flip-flop.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.