CIA Should Stop Suppressing Guantánamo Detainee Statements
Tribunal Transcripts Would Provide Critical Information About Bush Torture Program, Says ACLU
NEW YORK - The
American Civil Liberties Union today urged a federal court to review
transcripts in which 14 prisoners now held at Guantánamo Bay describe
abuse and torture suffered in CIA custody in order to determine whether
the government can continue to withhold the records from the public.
The filing came in an ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to
obtain uncensored transcripts from Combatant Status Review Tribunals
(CSRTs) used to determine if Guantánamo detainees qualify as "enemy
"While much is known about the Bush
administration's torture program, the CIA is continuing to censor the
most important eyewitnesses – the torture victims themselves," said Ben
Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. "The
CIA destroyed videotapes of interrogations in order to hide its crimes
from the American public; the Obama administration should not prolong
this cover-up by suppressing the victims' firsthand accounts. The CSRT
records will provide critical missing information about how the CIA's
torture program was actually carried out and will shed light on whether
interrogators followed, or exceeded, Justice Department legal guidance
that purported to authorize brutal interrogations."
While the CIA released
heavily-redacted versions of the documents in June, it continues to
suppress major portions of the documents including detainees'
allegations of torture. In August, the government filed a motion
arguing that it should be able to continue suppressing the documents
because releasing them would reveal "intelligence sources and methods"
and might aid enemy "propaganda."
"In light of the voluminous public
documents setting forth the interrogation techniques and detention
conditions described in the suppressed CSRT transcripts, there is no
legitimate basis for the Obama administration's continued refusal to
disclose them," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National
Security Project. "The public has a right to a comprehensive record of
what took place in the CIA's secret prisons, and these transcripts are
a crucial part of that record."
The ACLU filed the lawsuit, ACLU, et al. v. DOD, et al.,
in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Attorneys on
the case are Wizner and Jaffer of the ACLU National Security Project,
Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project and Arthur B.
Spitzer of the ACLU of the National Capital Area.
Today's filing is available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/
More about the ACLU's CSRT FOIA is at: www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/
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.