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Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR): CCR Says Attorney General Refuses to Condemn Waterboarding as Torture to Protect President and Other High Level Administration Officials Against Potential Criminal Prosecution

January 30, 2008
1:49 PM

CONTACT: Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
Jen Nessel (212) 614-6449 or Riptide Communications, (212) 260-5000

CCR Says Attorney General Refuses to Condemn Waterboarding as Torture to Protect President and Other High Level Administration Officials Against Potential Criminal Prosecution
Mukasey’s Claim That it Wouldn’t be “Responsible” To Acknowledge Brutal Interrogation Technique as Torture Draws Disbelief and Outrage from Attorneys For Gitmo Detainees
CCR Renews Call for Independent Counsel to Take over CIA Videotape Investigation

NEW YORK - January 30 - In yet another display of the Bush Administration’s contempt for fundamental human rights, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey once again failed to condemn the of interrogation practice known as water-boarding, in which detainees are subjected to simulated drowning. In a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee Mukasey stated “…I do not think it would be responsible for me, as attorney general, to provide an answer" in response to a question regarding the legality of water-boarding. Recently, the Bush administration acknowledged for the first time that interrogators have used the technique on detainees. Mukasey, who is testifying today before the committee today, has also been charged with investigation of the CIA’s destruction of video tapes of detainee interrogation that depict torture.

“Michael Mukasey is once again covering up for the criminal behavior of the Bush Administration, which clearly approved the use of waterboarding” said CCR president Michael Ratner. “Mr. Mukasey is acting as if he is defense counsel for George Bush and other high administration rather than this country’s Attorney General.” Ratner blasted Mukasey’s rational that because the Bush Administration claims it is no longer practicing waterboarding, he needn’t rule on its illegality pointing out that “all crimes are committed in the past…it is not only Mukasey’s job but it is his sworn duty to investigate crimes whenever they are committed and whomever commits them.”

Mukasey’s testimony comes at a time when CCR is seeking to preserve evidence of the torture of their client Majid Kahn while he was held at a CIA black site and to declare that the interrogation methods used on Majid constitute torture. In a motion filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. earlier this month CCR attorneys Gitanjali Gutierrez and Wells Dixon wrote that the CIA “was demonstrably incorrect when CIA director Michael Hayden claimed that videotaping of interrogations ended in 2002, The motion continues, "For instance, officials have said that his [Khan’s] interrogations were not videotaped; that all videotaping stopped in 2002; and that enhanced interrogation techniques were only used on a small number of prisoners.”

Given Mukasey’s inability to recognize waterboarding as a torture technique Ratner asserted that Mukasey should be relieved of his oversight of the investigation in the CIA tapes and an independent counsel should be appointed. “This is a guy who doesn’t seem to think that strapping a person down and pouring water over their cloth-covered face until they experience the sensation of drowning is torture. He cannot be trusted to fairly review the destruction of these tapes”

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.


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