Justice Department Ethics Report No Substitute For Criminal Investigations

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

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

Justice Department Ethics Report No Substitute For Criminal Investigations

Top-To-Bottom Investigation Of Torture Program Necessary, Says ACLU

NEW YORK - According
to news reports, a draft report from the Justice Department's Office of
Professional Responsibility concludes that the lawyers who wrote the
"torture memos" legally sanctioning illegal interrogation methods
committed serious lapses of judgment but should not be prosecuted. The
Washington Post reports that former Bush administration officials
launched a behind-the-scenes campaign to get the Justice Department to
soften the ethics report.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union:

"Regardless of the findings from the
Department of Justice ethics division, the ball is in Attorney General
Holder's court. The attorney general should not be swayed by political
considerations or by an inquiry that was intentionally neutered and
limited in scope. Attorney General Holder has said that he intends to
follow the facts and the law wherever they lead. The logical next step
is to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate those who
authorized the torture program, those who legally sanctioned it and
those who implemented it. It would be a dangerous precedent to conclude
that lawyers who played a critical role in an illegal program are
immune from criminal investigations. No one is above the law."

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

"Given the disturbing reports of
pressure from Bush administration officials to water down this report,
Congress must intervene and assert its oversight role. We cannot turn
the page on the failed policies of the Bush administration when its
lobbyists are attempting to rewrite history. This ethics review is only
one piece of the puzzle. More than five years after the first
disclosures of torture, it should concern all Americans that there is a
200-page draft government report on the role of three lawyers, but
absolutely no Justice Department investigation of their clients – those
top White House and CIA officials who asked for the opinions and
reportedly made decisions on what torture tactics to use on which
detainees. A top-to-bottom investigation is needed to examine not just
those who authored these opinions but those who requested them and to
determine whether these DOJ findings were watered down for political
reasons. Congress can and must play an active role in that
investigation."

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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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