The American Public Deserves to See the Mueller Report With as Few Redactions as Possible

Considering the “extraordinary public interest” in the Mueller report, any redactions made by Attorney General Barr must be limited and defensible.

ACLU National
Apr 12 · 7 min read

Grand jury secrecy

Barr said he will redact any material covered by a federal law that generally prohibits the disclosure of information from grand jury investigations. This law mandates confidentiality for information that “would reveal something about the grand jury’s identity, investigation, or deliberation.” It applies most directly to testimony provided in a grand jury proceeding.

Classified information

Barr also said he would redact “material the intelligence community identifies as potentially compromising sensitive sources and methods.” But the only material that Barr is required by law to redact is classified information. And while theoretically the memo may contain some material that if exposed to the public would endanger national security, any such redactions should be applied narrowly.

Interference with ongoing investigations

Barr said that he would redact “material that could affect other ongoing matters, including those that the Special Counsel has referred to other Department offices.” The need to preserve the confidentiality of ongoing investigations and the interest in protecting defendants’ fair trial rights are both legitimate, and in ordinary cases, they may conflict with public disclosure. But these concerns need to be measured carefully against the extraordinary interest in public disclosure.

Privacy and reputational concerns

Lastly, Barr has said he will redact “information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.” Personal privacy interests are of the utmost importance to the ACLU. As we’ve argued in Freedom of Information Act cases, to withhold information an individual’s privacy must be weighed against the public’s interest.


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ACLU

For nearly 100 years, America's guardian of liberty