ACLU Applauds House Judiciary Subcommittee on Continuing Its Examination Into Torture Approval

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2008
2:13 PM

CONTACT: ACLU
Liz Rose or Matthew Allee, (202) 675-2312,
media@dcaclu.org

 
ACLU Applauds House Judiciary Subcommittee on Continuing Its Examination Into Torture Approval
Decisions made at the White House should be exposed
 
WASHINGTON, DC - June 18 - The American Civil Liberties Union applauds Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties on holding the second in a series of three hearings to determine who authorized or ordered torture and abuse during interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, Afghanistan and in secret government torture cells around the world. In today’s hearing the subcommittee will hear from three former high-level officials in the Bush administration.

“Chairman Nadler and the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties deserves praise from all Americans for their diligent work in the ongoing investigation into the approval of torture,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Those in this administration who have led our nation down this dark road deserve to be brought to justice before the American people – the executive branch is not above the law. America does not stand for torture, nor will we allow it to be conducted in our name. We now know that the horrific directive to torture was not only approved by the White House, but was devised under the supervision of the president’s top advisors, through a decision-making process approved by the president himself. We look forward to continued efforts by Congress to get to the bottom of this travesty and call on our elected officials to hold accountable any and all public officials involved in ordering criminal torture.”

The ACLU has been pushing hard for more accountability and disclosures of torture authorized by the government, through both legislative oversight and litigation. The ACLU called on Attorney General Michael Mukasey to appoint an independent prosecutor back in December to ensure that any criminal acts are investigated and prosecuted without partisan interference.

"Today’s hearing is yet another nail in the coffin of the administration's argument that torture was the work of a few bad apples in the military,” said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel with the ACLU. “Over the past eight days, Congress has had four hearings with 13 current or former high-level officials from the White House, Defense Department, Justice Department, FBI and State Department. It is increasingly clear that the decision to abandon the rule of law and order torture and abuse was made at the very top – in the defense secretary's office at the Pentagon and in the National Security Council's White House situation room. It would be hard to imagine a more compelling reason to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate these torture crimes. Privates and sergeants should not be the only people sitting in prison convicted of torture and abuse if high-level government officials sitting in Washington offices ordered torture and abuse. In America, no one is above the law."

In October 2003, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records concerning the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody abroad. While more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to the ACLU's FOIA lawsuit, the government continues to withhold many vital records and litigation is ongoing.

The ACLU letter to the attorney general urging the appointment of a special prosecutor can be found at: http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/33530leg20080107.html

The documents received in the ACLU's FOIA litigation are online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia

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