For Immediate Release
Court Rules Government Can Continue to Suppress Detainee Statements Describing Torture and Abuse
Transcripts of Combatant Status Review Trials Essential to Accountability for Torture, Says ACLU
WASHINGTON - A
federal court today ruled that the government can continue suppressing
transcripts in which former CIA prisoners now held at Guantánamo Bay
describe abuse and torture suffered in CIA custody. The ruling 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 combatants."
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 today's ruling, Chief Judge Royce
C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
declined to review "in camera" the documents the government is
withholding in order to determine if they should remain classified.
The following can be attributed to Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:
"The court's ruling allows the
government to continue suppressing these first-hand accounts of torture
- not to protect any legitimate national security interest, but to
protect current and former government officials from accountability.
While much is known about the Bush administration's torture program,
the CIA continues to censor the most important eyewitnesses - the
torture victims themselves.
"The public has a right to a
comprehensive record of what took place in the CIA's secret prisons.
The CSRT records will provide critical missing information about how
the CIA's torture program was actually carried out and whether
interrogators followed, or exceeded, Justice Department legal guidance
that purported to authorize brutal interrogations.
"The courts have the authority and
the responsibility to ensure that the administration does not deprive
the public of critical information for improper purposes. The ACLU will
appeal today's decision."
Attorneys on the case, ACLU, et al. v. DOD, et al.,
are Wizner and Jameel 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 ruling 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.