(CN) – A federal judge ordered the release of documents from a 2004 interview between the FBI and former Vice President Dick Cheney related to the investigation of who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.
The FBI launched the investigation into the identity leak after Wilson’s husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, criticized the Bush administration over the Iraq war in a New York Times editorial.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington, D.C., ruled that some records related to the investigation were appropriately withheld in the interests of privacy and national security, and under the presidential communications privilege, which guarantees candor between the president and vice president.
But other information was not protected, Sullivan ruled.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington had sued for the release of 67 pages of documents related to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s interview with Cheney under the Freedom of Information Act, but both the Bush and Obama administrations tried to keep the records under wraps by citing FOIA exemptions.
The Department of Justice claimed that disclosure would interfere with future investigations, but Judge Sullivan said there was no concrete pending investigation and therefore no protection under a law enforcement proceedings exemption.
The department also said releasing Cheney’s interview could have a “chilling effect” on senior White House officials’ willingness to participate in future investigations, but the court dismissed that argument as speculative.
“The court declines the government’s invitation to create a new, per se FOIA exemption for any and all law enforcement interviews involving high-level White House officials,” Sullivan wrote.
Sullivan ordered the records released by Oct. 9.