WASHINGTON – The Justice Department is refusing to release legal memos the George W. Bush administration used to justify his warrantless surveillance program, one of the most contentious civil liberties issues during the Republican president’s time in office.
In responding to a federal Freedom of Information Act request, the department is withholding two legal analyses by then-government lawyer John Yoo and is revealing just eight sentences from a third Yoo memo dated Nov. 2, 2001. That memo is at least 21 pages long.
Each of the three memos was summarized in a public report more than two years ago by five inspectors general. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel says that Yoo memos from Feb. 8, 2002 and Oct. 11, 2002 were classified and protected from public disclosure by the deliberative process privilege. The Nov. 2 memo was withheld almost in its entirety for an additional reason, that it was covered by nondisclosure provisions in federal laws…