Last week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) pronounced himself pleased that the administration had handed over four "previously undisclosed documents" relating to the administration's interrogation policies. As he wrote to White House counsel Fred Fielding in a letter: "The release of these documents restarts the incremental process of providing necessary information to Congress and to the American people about the Administrationâs legal justifications and policies with regard to torture and interrogation." After months of stonewalling, it was a new day!
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Well, not so much. Apparently three of the four documents, called "previously undisclosed," in the committee's press release at the time, were already in the public domain.
For instance, Leahy could have gone to the ACLU's website to read the February 4, 2005 letter from Acting Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin that the administration handed over. And the December 30, 2004, memo (pdf) from Levin that famously redefined torture? The Justice Department released that publicly itself at the time. The third document Leahy cites is private testimony (pdf) by a former Justice Department official back in July, 2004, to the House intelligence committee. That, too, is in the public record.
And the fourth? It remains classified, although it's general contents have already been widely reported.
Keep in mind that the administration has still not turned over any of the memos during Alberto Gonzales' tenure as attorney general, such as the ones reported by The New York Times earlier this month.
Leahy's statement is below.