Senate Holds Hearing On Justice Department Torture Memo Report

For Immediate Release

Senate Holds Hearing On Justice Department Torture Memo Report

Criminal Investigation Into Torture Program Must Be Broadened, Says ACLU

WASHINGTON - The
Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing today in the wake of a
report from the Justice Department’s Office of Professional
Responsibility (OPR) that revealed new details about the development
and justification of the Bush administration’s torture program. The
report, which contained the results of an investigation into the
authors of the Bush administration Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)
“torture memos,” sheds new light on the extent to which the White House
and Vice President Cheney’s office, in particular, were involved in the
drafting of the memos and the development of the torture program, and
gives the impression that the memos were drafted at the direction of
those offices. This information comes on top of the wealth of other
evidence already in the public domain that high level Bush
administration officials were involved in the torture program.

As of now, a Justice Department official is expected to testify at today’s hearing.

“It
is critical today that senators make clear that, given the information
in the OPR report and the wealth of other evidence in the public
domain, the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into the
torture program must be broad enough to include those
who authorized and legally sanctioned these shameful acts,” said Laura
W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

The
OPR report found that John Yoo and Jay Bybee, two of the three torture
memo authors, engaged in professional misconduct by failing to provide
"thorough, candid, and objective" analysis. That conclusion, however,
was rejected in a later memorandum written by Associate Deputy Attorney
General David Margolis, who, while still critical of Yoo’s and Bybee’s
conduct, found that they exercised “poor judgment.”

“Rather
than supply bona fide legal analysis, the Bush administration's lawyers
supplied the Defense Department and CIA with ends-driven memos intended
to provide immunity for torture,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the
ACLU National Security Project. “The Justice Department's investigation
has to be broad enough to reach not only the interrogators who used
torture but the officials who justified and authorized it."
 
“Torture
is a crime, and the authorization and sanctioning of that crime is not
a legitimate policy decision,” said Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior
Legislative Counsel. “We must demonstrate that we take these crimes
seriously and hold ourselves to the same standards we impose upon
others. Congress and the Justice Department must finally take a stand
and demand accountability.”

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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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