ACLU Asks Secretary Of State Clinton To Clarify U.S. Policy On Exposing Torture And Rendition

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; media@aclu.org
Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

ACLU Asks Secretary Of State Clinton To Clarify U.S. Policy On Exposing Torture And Rendition

In Response To U.S. Threats, U.K. Court Rules Torture Evidence Must Remain Secret

NEW YORK - The
American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter today to Secretary of
State Hillary Rodham Clinton urging her to clarify the Obama
administration's position related to the rendition case of Guantánamo
detainee Binyam Mohamed and calling on her to reject the Bush
administration's policy of using false claims of national security to
avoid judicial review of controversial programs. The British High Court
today ruled that evidence of British resident Mohamed's extraordinary
rendition and torture at Guantánamo Bay must remain secret because of
threats made by the Bush administration to halt intelligence sharing
with Britain if the evidence is disclosed. According to the British
court's opinion, the U.S. "position remains the same, even after the
making of the executive orders by President Obama," and, if the
evidence is to be made public, "it must now be for the United States
Government to consider changing its position or itself putting that
information in the public domain."

The ACLU letter asks for
clarification of the U.S. position on the publication of evidence in
Mohamed's case in the British court. According to the letter, "the
claims made by the British justices that the Obama administration
continues to oppose publication of the judgment in the Binyam Mohamed
case - to the point of threatening the future of U.S.-British
intelligence cooperation - seems completely at odds with both the
anti-torture and transparency executive orders signed by the
president."

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

"We are deeply troubled to learn
that lingering Bush administration policies of secrecy and obstruction
continue to stand in the way of legal proceedings aimed at getting to
the truth about rendition and torture. The latest revelation is
completely at odds with President Obama's executive orders that ban
torture and end rendition, as well as his promise to restore the rule
of law. Since the U.S. position in this case was articulated by former
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, it now falls to current Secretary
of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to take prompt and concrete steps to
reverse the Bush administration's systemic attempts to avoid
international scrutiny. The policies of the Bush administration have
come back to haunt America and obstruct justice in this case, and a
clear repudiation of these positions is necessary and must not be
deferred a moment longer. We cannot claim that we are turning the page
on torture and rendition while continuing to cover up evidence of the
Bush administration's abuses. What's needed now is an urgent inquiry in
both countries to achieve a trans-Atlantic restoration of the rule of
law."
 
The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office:

"If President Obama's executive
orders to ban torture and end rendition are to become reality, not just
rhetoric, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Obama
administration must clarify the position of the U.S. and remove any
threat related to the publication of the British court's ruling. It is
time to make a clean break from Bush administration policies of torture
and extraordinary rendition and the secrecy that surrounds them."

On Monday, the ACLU will present
arguments in U.S. federal court in a lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary
Jeppesen DataPlan, Inc. for its role in the extraordinary rendition
program. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Mohamed and four others
who were victims of extraordinary rendition. The Bush administration
has claimed the state secrets privilege in an attempt to get the case
thrown out.

The following can be attributed to Ben Wizner, an ACLU staff attorney who will argue the plaintiff's case on Monday:

"Under the Bush administration, the
U.S. government used false claims of national security to dodge
judicial scrutiny of extraordinary rendition, even as other countries
were attempting to examine the unlawful program. This case presents the
first test of the Obama administration's dedication to transparency and
willingness to move beyond rhetoric in its condemnation of torture. The
administration should unequivocally reject the Bush administration's
positions and permit these important cases in both the U.S. and the
U.K. to go forward. Victims of extraordinary rendition deserve their
day in court."

The British High Court ruling is available online at: www.judiciary.gov.uk/docs/judgments_guidance/mohamed-judgment4-04022009.pdf

The ACLU's letter to Secretary of State Clinton is at: www.aclu.org/safefree/general/38660leg20090204.html

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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