For Immediate Release
Attorney General Holder to Appoint Prosecutor to Investigate Torture
Release of CIA Torture Report Underscores Need for Full Investigation, Says ACLU
NEW YORK - Attorney
General Eric Holder will appoint a special prosecutor to conduct a
preliminary investigation into whether federal laws were violated in
connection with the interrogation of specific detainees in U.S. custody
overseas under the Bush administration.
Attorney General Holder said his
decision to appoint a special prosecutor was in part influenced by the
contents of a CIA inspector general report made public today as part of
an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
The IG report provides a detailed description of torture and abuse of
detainees and addresses the legality and effectiveness of the agency's
"enhanced interrogation" program.
"While this is a welcome first step,
we are disappointed that Attorney General Holder still appears
unwilling to conduct a full investigation and to prosecute any crimes
that are uncovered. A preliminary investigation absent a commitment to
prosecute violations of the law is simply anemic. How much evidence of
wrongdoing and violations of law is necessary before the attorney
general commits to launching a full investigation?" said Anthony D.
Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "The CIA's own inspector
general documented in disturbing detail the level of the torture
committed and the extent to which laws were broken. Attorney General
Holder's decision not to launch a full investigation is deeply
troubling given the evidence already in the public domain of crimes
that were committed. Any investigation that truly follows the facts
where they lead would inevitably lead to prosecutions of high level
officials - not just rogue agents in the field. This issue will not go
away by deferring the hard decisions."
The version of the IG report made
public today includes newly unredacted sections and details of serious
detainee abuse in CIA custody that were previously unknown. According
to the report, agents committed mock executions and threatened to harm
at least one detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, with a gun and a power
drill if he did not cooperate with the interrogation. Al-Nashiri is
represented by military attorneys assisted by the John Adams Project, a
joint effort by the ACLU and the National Association of Criminal
Defense Lawyers to provide support for the under resourced military
defense counsel in the Guantánamo military commissions.
"The Obama administration made a
commitment to transparency, and the release of the IG report is a step
in the right direction. The American public has a right to know the
full truth about the torture that was committed in its name," said
Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security project. "The
information in the report about the origins and scope of the CIA's
torture program further underscores the need for a comprehensive
investigation into the torture of detainees and those who authorized
The CIA turned over a heavily
redacted version of the IG report in May 2008, but earlier this year
the government agreed to review the same report with a view toward
disclosing more information.
The CIA IG report is available online at: www.aclu.org/oigreport/
More information about the ACLU's FOIA litigation is available online at: www.aclu.org/accountability
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.