Yesterday, we noted that the Pentagon is delaying publication of a Department of Justice Inspector General's report about potential abuses of detainees at Guantanamo Bay (potential abuses that were apparently witnessed by FBI agents). The Pentagon is deciding whether the report should be cleared for released or alternatively, whether it should be classified. Trying to get a sense of just how unusual such a delay is, we spoke today with Bill Leonard, the recently former head of the government's classification oversight office.
Leonard is a careful man and he was clear that he has "no firsthand knowledge of the specifics" of the case. He was also clearly skeptical about the appropriateness of keeping such a report classified:
Without knowing what is in the documents, it is hard to imagine what could be classified. Identification of detainees, interrogation techniques, etc., have long been declassified. Also, the track record isn't very good on this count. The original "Taguba Report" on the abuses at Abu Ghraib was originally classified, in violation of the governing Executive order's prohibitions and limitations. In addition, the DoJ report just recently declassified by DoD earlier this month clearly should not have been classified in the first place. As indicated in these and other examples, the classification system has all too often been abused. Until individuals are held accountable for the abuse of the classification system, we can expect it to continue.