Senate Torture Report Confirms CIA Emails Hold Unique Records – January 6, 2015 Newsletter

– Brief Updates on Coalition Partners & Others (more)
– Senate Torture Report Confirms That CIA Emails Contain Unique Records (more)
– Supreme Court Intends to Take Slow Step Toward Transparency (more)


News from Coalition Partners & Others

TRAC Tallies 2014's FOIA Lawsuits

Journalists, advocacy groups, and other members of the public filed 422 Freedom of Information Act suits in federal district courts in 2014. A report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) highlights the top defendants and plaintiffs. Explore their previous reports here.

Iowa Freedom of Information Council Spreads the Word on State Openness Laws 

The Iowa Freedom of Information Council is updating its popular “Iowa Open Meetings, Open Records Handbook” for the 16th edition. Information on ordering the booklet and the text itself is available on the council’s website: For more information, contact council Executive Director Kathleen Richardson at

Senate Torture Report Confirms That CIA Emails Contain Unique Records

On November 3, and 16 other groups wrote to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) opposing a CIA proposal for increased authority to destroy emails. Seven Senators followed suit, warning that in the words of Senators Mark Udall, Ron Wyden, and Martin Heinrich that “important information about the CIA’s actions, assessments, and decision-making process is often contained in email records and nowhere else.”

The executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA torture program, released December 9, shows why the CIA’s oversight committee was so convinced of emails’ historic value. Over and over again, on approximately every other page of the executive summary, the intelligence committee study cites to CIA emails for evidence of torture and deception by the agency.

Fortunately, NARA is now reassessing its preliminary approval of the CIA proposal. The Senate report demonstrates the need for extreme skepticism of CIA claims that its email records lack unique historical value.

Supreme Court Intends to Take Slow Step Toward Transparency

Describing the US Federal Courts’ approach to technology, Chief Justice John G. Roberts invoked the Supreme Court building’s engraving that illustrates the fable of the tortoise and the hare. In the 2014 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, Roberts defended the judiciary’s slow adoption of modern technology, citing funding and cybersecurity concerns. Roberts notes, rightly, that providing the public access to the court and its information must also reach members of the public without access to technology and the court must take this into account in its implementation of technological systems. “Unlike commercial enterprises,” Roberts writes, “the courts cannot decide to serve only the most technically-capable or well-equipped segments of the public.” Roberts also announced that the Supreme Court is developing an electronic filing system to make the Court’s documents available to the public without cost.