Rights Groups Present New Documents that Show Congress Knew More about CIA Rendition, Secret Detention, and Torture Than Previously Disclosed

For Immediate Release

Rights Groups
Contact: 

AIUSA, Sharon Singh, 202 675 8579, ssingh@aiusa.org
CCR, Jen Nessel, 212 614 6449, jnessel@ccrjustice.org
CHRGJ, Veerle Opgenhaffen, 212 992 8186, opgenhaffen@exchange.law.nyu.edu

Rights Groups Present New Documents that Show Congress Knew More about CIA Rendition, Secret Detention, and Torture Than Previously Disclosed

Evidence Points to Cheney Counsel’s Role in Authorizing Torture

NEW YORK and WASHINGTON - New
FOIA documents illustrate that key congressional members from both
houses were briefed numerous times about the Central Intelligence
Agency's (CIA) interrogation and detention programs, said
several prominent human rights groups today. The groups-Amnesty
International USA (AIUSA), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR),
and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at NYU
School of Law-were responding to several documents just received in
response to the groups' Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation. 

Among other new information, the documents show that:

 

  • While
    Vice President Cheney's role in authorizing waterboarding and other
    so-called enhanced interrogation techniques has been public, a newly
    obtained February 4, 2003, CIA memo documents the role of Counsel for
    the Office of the Vice President (OVP) in analyzing and approving the
    CIA techniques.

 

  • According
    to CIA meeting records and the same February 4, 2003, memo, it seems
    that in one of his first acts as chair of the Senate Select Committee
    on Intelligence, Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) discontinued efforts by
    previous chair Senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.) to implement greater
    oversight of these programs, thus abdicating the role of Congress in
    overseeing the CIA rendition, secret detention, and torture programs.

 

  • There
    are significant questions about how clear the CIA was with Congress
    (including in Hayden's previously classified briefing on April 12, 2007
    to the Senate Intelligence Committee) about the timing, nature, and
    results of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, including particularly
    interrogation pre-the OLC August 1, 2002 memo.

  In light of these new facts, AIUSA, CCR, and CHRGJ released the following statements:

 Tom Parker, policy director for (counter) terrorism and human rights for Amnesty International USA: 

"We
have a little more clarity about who knew what when, but this is still
just the tip of the iceberg. These documents reveal that members of
Congress colluded in covering up evidence of the U.S. government's
torture program. This is hardly the kind of oversight in which the
American people can have faith. We need a full and impartial
investigation to get to the truth. Congress simply can't be trusted to
properly investigate itself." 

Gitanjali Gutierrez, attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights:  "Members
of Congress must come clean about whether they encouraged or objected
to torture during these many secret meetings with CIA officials and we
need a complete accounting of Cheney's counsel, David Addington's, role
in the creation of the torture program. These new documents show that
the CIA may have lied to Congress about the role of interrogation
techniques in detainee deaths and key members of Congress abdicated
their oversight role.  This new information points even more strongly
to the need for a full criminal investigation of the torture program,
up the entire chain of command." 

Jayne Huckerby, research director for the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law: 

"These
heavily redacted documents suggest that Congress had greater knowledge
about the program than it has been willing to admit. This
self-protective behavior runs counter to the role Congress should be
playing in upholding transparency.  It's unacceptable to have the
courts, the executive branch, and now Congress blocking all avenues of
accountability. Congress must come clean about what was known, by whom,
and when in order to uphold the rule of law." 

Background
The
2007 lawsuit is based on administrative FOIA requests dating back to
2004 filed by AIUSA, CCR, and CHRJG with several U.S. government
agencie-including the CIA, the Department of Defense (DOD), the
Department of State (DOS), the Department of Justice, and the
Department of Homeland Security-seeking records about rendition, secret
detention, and "enhanced" interrogation. Morrison & Foerster LLP
serves as co-counsel in the case. 

To see the most recent
documents released from the CIA, DOD, and DOS, as well as the prior
filings and other documents previously released through this
litigation, visit CCR's Freedom of Information Act page. 

For more information or copies of legal filings in the case and released documents, please contact jnessel@ccrjustice.orgopgenhaffen@exchange.law.nyu.edu, orssingh@aiusa.org.

 For more information about the organizations involved, please see their websites: www.ccrjustice.orgwww.chrgj.org, and www.amnestyusa.org.  

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