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Federal judge orders DOJ to release Cheney CIA leak interview documents

[JURIST] A judge in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Friday ordered [order, PDF; memorandum opinion PDF] the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] to release some files from its interview with former vice president Dick Cheney [BBC profile] over his role in leaking the name of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] agent Valerie Plame [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The lawsuit, filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) [advocacy website] under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text], sought more than 60 pages of interviews that the FBI and the DOJ conducted with Cheney. The DOJ withheld all of the pages detailing Cheney's interview, claiming that statutory exemptions under FOIA permitted them to do so for national security purposes. Ordering a partial release of the documents, Judge Emmet Sullivan said:

[T]he Court concludes that the agency has met its burden of demonstrating that certain limited information was appropriately withheld from disclosure to protect the well-recognized deliberative process and presidential communications privileges under Exemption 5, personal privacy under Exemptions 6 and 7(C), and national security interests under Exemptions 1 and 3. The Court cannot, however, permit the government to withhold the records in their entirety under Exemption 7(A) on the basis that disclosure might interfere with some unidentifiable and unspecified future law enforcement proceedings.

The documents were subpoenaed [JURIST report] last year by the US House Judiciary Committee.

A jury previously found [JURIST report] Cheney aide I. Lewis Scooter Libby [JURIST news archive] guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation into the leak of Plame's identity. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit later disbarred [JURIST report] Libby because of his conviction. In July 2007, a federal judge dismissed [JURIST report] a lawsuit brought by Plame against members of the Bush administration, finding lack of jurisdiction over tort law claims.

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