WASHINGTON—A federal appeals court said Friday that it will no longer accept the “fiction” from the Obama administration’s lawyers that the CIA has no interest or documents that describe drone strikes.
“It is neither logical nor plausible for the CIA to maintain that it would reveal anything not already in the public domain to say the Agency at least has an intelligence interest in such strikes,” said Chief Judge Merrick Garland. “The defendant is, after all, the Central Intelligence Agency.”
The decision gave a partial victory to the American Civil Liberties Union in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that seeks documents on the government’s still-secret policy on drone strikes. The three judges did not say any particular documents must be released, but they rejected the administration’s position that it could simply refuse to “confirm or deny” that it had any such documents.
A federal judge had rejected the ACLU’s suit entirely, but the three-judge appeals court revived the suit. The agency’s non-response does not pass the “straight face” test, Garland concluded.