The Internal Panetta Review: Still a secret

One of last year’s prominent stories was a Senate subcommittee investigation into allegations of CIA torture. A Guardian article mentioned a document called the Internal Panetta Review. I submitted a public records request for the Internal Panetta Review on March 16th, 2014.

March 16, 2014

Information and Privacy Coordinator
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, D.C. 20505

Dear Coordinator:

Under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. subsection 552, I am requesting a copy of the “internal Panetta review”, which is referenced in this 12 March 2014 article in the Guardian newspaper:

If there are any fees for searching for, reviewing, or copying the records, please notify me before processing if the amount exceeds $50.00. I fall into the “Other” fee category, as described on

If you deny all or any part of this request, please cite each specific exemption you think justifies your refusal to release the information and notify me of appeal procedures available under the law.

The CIA acknowledged my request on March 31st, 2014, assigning it FOIA request #F-2014-01121.

On March 10th the CIA denied my request in full:

10 March 2015

Reference: F-2014-01121

Dear Mr. Revilak:

This is a final response to your 16 March 2014 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a copy of the internal Panetta review. As you will recall, in our 31 March 2014 letter, we informed you that we had already initiated searches for this information in connection with an earlier FOIA request received prior to yours that was being processed in the litigation stage. We cross-referenced your request to the earlier one in order to send you any records that were found to be releasable.

As a result of our searches undertaken in connection with the earlier request, we located material that was determined to be currently and properly classified and must be withheld in its entirety on the basis of FOIA exemptions (b)(1), (b)(3), and (b)(5). Exemption (b)(3) pertains to information exempt from disclosure by statute. The relevant statutes are Section 6 of the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949, as amended, and Section 102A(i)(l) of the National Security Act of 1947, as amended. In accordance with our regulation in Title 32 of the Code of Federal Regulation at 1900.42(c), because the material is the subject of pending litigation in the federal courts, you are not entitled to appeal this determination administratively.

And so the Internal Panetta review remains a secret, at least for now.

Reading the CIA’s letter made me think of Daniel Ellsberg’s talk at HOPE X in New York City. Mr. Ellsberg discussed how he (and Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning) had taken oaths to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Secrecy was not an oath, but an administrative agreement — non unlike a corporate NDA. Mr. Ellsberg expressed concern that our government officials were using secrets to hide their actions from public view.

A March 2nd article from analyzes some of the conditions surrounding the CIA’s adoption of “enhanced interrogation techniques”. The declassified memos cited in this article make it clear that the CIA’s interrogation program was done with the knowledge (and blessing) of higher-level officials in Washington. Very simply, torture was administrative policy.

The public deserves to see the Internal Panetta Review. Keeping the document secret — and concealing the actions of those responsible — does not serve the public interest.

FOIA Documents: Panetta Review FOIA Documents.

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