The Justice Department is trying to get a federal judge to withhold from the public for up to a decade records of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s 2004 interview with a prosecutor in the Valerie Plame leak case, Politico reports. Aside from claiming that, if released, the documents would subject Cheney to ridicule on television, the Justice Department claims other government officials would be more reluctant to testify in similar cases.
The nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is suing for the records under the Freedom of Information Act, after its request for the interview documents was denied. CREW’s attorney argued at a hearing Tuesday that the government’s claims were "hypothetical," according to Politico, and could lead to a myriad of officials and industry leaders refusing to hand out public information on similar grounds.
Politico said federal Judge Emmet Sullivan seemed concerned that the government was asking him to essentially carve out a new exemption to FOIA just for the vice president. While existing exemptions do allow records of pending investigations to be withheld, the judge reportedly pointed out, records of closed cases like the leak inquiry are generally open.