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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2009
9:38 AM

CONTACT: ACLU

Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; media@aclu.org

ACLU Teleconference TODAY at 10:30 AM: The Obama Administration and Impunity for Torture

Experts Will Discuss Major Civil Lawsuits, the Forthcoming OPR Report and the Obama Administration's Efforts to Shield Bush Administration Officials From Accountability for Torture

NEW YORK - December 10 - Despite substantial evidence already in the public domain that senior members of the Bush administration were directly involved in the illegal torture program, efforts to achieve accountability have been repeatedly stymied by the Obama administration. The American Civil Liberties Union will host a teleconference today, Thursday, December 10 at 10:30 a.m. EST to "connect the dots" on the following issues:

Criminal Investigation: Since the beginning of his administration, President Obama has discouraged a full-blown criminal investigation of the torture program, arguing that the country should look forward, not backward. While Attorney General Eric Holder launched a "preliminary review" on August 24, 2009 into "whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations," that investigation is narrowly circumscribed and does not encompass senior officials who authorized torture or senior government attorneys who facilitated it. The investigation is exceedingly limited in scope even though a report of the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which is expected to be released imminently, reportedly underscores the central role that government lawyers played in justifying the Bush administration's torture policies.

Civil lawsuits on behalf of torture victims: In case after case, including the ACLU's case against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan for its role in the CIA extraordinary rendition flights, the administration has tried to block accountability and redress for torture victims by improperly asserting the "state secrets" privilege. The ACLU will be arguing the Jeppesen case before an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on December 15. The Obama administration also filed a friend-of-the-court brief December 3 in a case brought by Jose Padilla against torture-memo author John Yoo, arguing that the Constitution does not provide a civil remedy to prisoners who were deemed to be "enemy combatants" and then tortured in U.S. custody.

Civil lawsuits for disclosure of torture files: Notwithstanding its stated commitment to transparency, the Obama administration continues to withhold crucial documents relating to the Bush administration's torture program, including documents relating to the CIA's black sites, transcripts in which CIA prisoners discuss their torture in those black sites and photographs showing the abuse of prisoners in Defense Department custody. The ACLU continues to fight for comprehensive disclosure of the Bush administration's torture files and has moved to hold the CIA in contempt for its destruction of videotapes showing prisoners being waterboarded. The CIA is scheduled to process for potential release by December 23 a batch of documents describing the reasons and people behind the CIA's destruction of the videotapes.

WHAT:
Teleconference featuring ACLU experts discussing major civil lawsuits, the forthcoming OPR report, lack of transparency and the Obama administration's efforts to shield Bush administration officials from accountability for torture, followed by a question and answer period for members of the media

WHO:
Jameel Jaffer, Director, ACLU National Security Project Ben Wizner, attorney in the ACLU's rendition lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan Alex Abdo, attorney in the ACLU's torture FOIA lawsuits Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel

WHEN:
TODAY, Thursday, December 10, 2009 10:30 a.m. EST

CALL-IN INFO:
United States: (800) 288-9626             
International: (612) 332-0335

 

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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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