DOJ Releases Torture Memos: Now Is the Time for Prosecutions, Not 'Reflection'

DOJ Releases Torture Memos: Now Is the Time for Prosecutions, Not 'Reflection'

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Today, after more than five years of waiting, the ACLU received four memos from the Department of Justice describing the torture techniques and the legal foundations for such techniques.  Accompanying the release of these long-awaited memos, President Obama issued an official statement describing his position.  In part (our emphasis added):

This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong
views and emotions that these issues evoke. We have been through a dark
and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges
and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time
and energy laying blame for the past
.

The ACLU has called for the Justice
Department to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate torture
under the Bush administration.

"We have to look back before we can
move forward as a nation. When crimes have been committed, the American
legal system demands accountability. President Obama's assertion that
there should not be prosecutions of government officials who may have
committed crimes before a thorough investigation has been carried out
is simply untenable. Enforcing the nation's laws should not be a
political decision. These memos provide yet more incontrovertible
evidence that Bush administration officials at the highest level of
government authorized and gave legal blessings to acts of torture that
violate domestic and international law," said Anthony D. Romero,
Executive Director of the ACLU.
"There can be no more excuses for
putting off criminal investigations of officials who authorized
torture, lawyers who justified it and interrogators who broke the law.
No one is above the law, and the law must be equally enforced.
Accountability is necessary for any functioning democracy and for
restoring America's reputation at home and abroad."

On April 16, 2009, the Department of Justice released four secret memos used
by the Bush administration to justify torture:

A 18-page memo, dated August
1, 2002, from Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo,
General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
A 46-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant
Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
A 20-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant
Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
A 40-page memo, dated May 30, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant
Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]

 

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