Investigative journalist Shawn Musgrave has been trying to get the 6,700-page report on the CIA's torture program for several years now, citing a "common law right of access" to public records. His argument rested on the right of the public to know certain information, conceptually similar to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
On Sept. 15, Chief District Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, ruled that the torture report "does not qualify as a public record subject to the common law right of public access."
Howell cited and reaffirmed the 2016 ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which concluded that the report was a congressional record and therefore not subject to FOIA requests. (Related: Supreme Court ruling allows Deep State to hide its secret torture activities.)
The judge noted that the CIA documents fall under the protections guaranteed by the First Amendment's speech and debate clause that protects the speech of lawmakers while they are in the halls of Congress. This is because these documents are a congressional report that was part of a committee investigation aimed at gathering information.
Howell added that the report contains highly classified information regarding the CIA's "detention and interrogation policies" that could compromise national security if released.
Musgrave's attorney, Kel McClanahan, said they plan to appeal Howell's decision.
"While we're obviously disappointed with the results, we recognized from the outset that this would be an uphill battle," said McClanahan following Howell's verdict. "We understand that this is a thorny issue and will ultimately need to be decided by a superior court."
Senators – both Democratic and Republican – have released statements following the verdict claiming to want the full report on the CIA's torture activities to be released soon.
When Republicans still controlled the Senate under then-President Donald Trump, former Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina insisted that all other copies of the report be retrieved.
Former Senate Intelligence Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California released a 500-page executive summary of the report back in 2014, over the objections of the intelligence community. What she released included information regarding the torture of detainees in Afghanistan.
"I agree with the judge that the Senate Intelligence Committee should retain control over its own documents. I also continue to believe the full torture report – with appropriate redactions – should be released at some point," said Feinstein.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the current committee chair, said in a statement that Howell's opinion recognizes that "the committee is committed to conducting vigorous oversight of the activities carried out by our intelligence agencies and to ensuring that the American public has visibility into those activities without jeopardizing intelligence sources and methods vital to our national security."
President Barack Obama placed a copy of the full torture report into his presidential records before he left the White House. This copy is preserved in the National Archives and, barring another ruling, parts of the report could be declassified beginning in 2029.
Learn more about the federal government at BigGovernment.news.
Watch this episode of "Zolna Report" as host Gabe Zolna discusses a Guantanamo detainee who went into detail about how the CIA tortured him.
This video is from the ZolnaReport.com channel on Brighteon.com.