A few years ago, the ACLU successfully sued the Pentagon for documents on Guantanamo Bay. It took a good while but the Pentagon eventfully coughed up thousands of pages of documents. One of the biggest revelations was that FBI agents had witnessed abuse of detainees. So the DOJ launched an internal investigation exploring just what the agents saw. Thankfully, that investigation is now done. In fact, it's been done for a few months. So why haven't we seen it yet? Because the Pentagon is taking it sweet time in reviewing the report for clearance.
The Pentagon's delay isn't sitting well with the DOJ's inspector general, who oversaw the report. From McClatchy:
Glenn Fine, the Justice Department’s inspector general, told McClatchy Newspapers that his office has pressed the Defense Department to finish its review, but officials there haven’t completed the process “in a timely fashion.”
“Why that happened, I don’t know,” Fine said in an interview this week.
“It’s been slower than we would like, and it’s taken a long time. We provided our report to them months ago, and we are pushing hard to conclude this process.”
Which made me wonder: Just how unusual is it for an inspector general's report to be delayed by another agency or department.
I emailed with secrecy guru Steven Aftergood who suggested the question really misses the bigger picture: "From my perspective, it is just one more illustration of the tactical use of the classification system to manage public perception. Why was the John Yoo torture memo' classified Secret? Not for national security reasons."
A few years ago I interviewed Aftergood about a related story, namely why the Pentagon's original report on the Abu Ghraib abuses--the Taguba report--was classified to begin with. His answer then might just be as for today: "The classification system has entered advanced stage of decadence."
P.S. The DOJ report might not stay classified for long. The ACLU has just FOIA'd it.
P.P.S. Coming tomorrow (if he returns our calls) a discussion with William Leonard, the former head of the government's classification oversight office. (That office doesn't have a lot of power, but the folks there do know the system!)