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Rachel Myers, National ACLU, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; email@example.com
ACLU Renews Call For Accountability At Start Of Torture Awareness Month
Group Launches "A Document A Day" To Highlight A Formerly-Secret Document Every Day In June
NEW YORK - June 1 - The American Civil Liberties Union today
renewed its call for the Obama administration to hold Bush-era
government officials accountable for the torture and abuse of detainees
in U.S. custody. Despite disavowing torture, the current administration
continues to shield from civil liability, criminal investigation and
public scrutiny Bush administration officials who authorized torture.
Among other things, the Obama administration continues to withhold from the public key documents relating to the CIA's rendition, detention and interrogation program; has urged courts not to allow torture victims to bring claims under the Constitution; and has invoked the "state secrets" privilege to shield Bush administration officials from civil liability. An ongoing investigation of the torture program initiated by the Justice Department in August 2009 excludes top-level officials.
"It's not too late for the Obama administration to reconsider the positions it has taken in court, and it's not too late for the Justice Department to expand the scope of its criminal investigation," said Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU. "If the administration doesn't change course now, it will institutionalize impunity and do irreparable damage to the rule of law."
In observance of Torture Awareness Month, the ACLU will highlight a formerly-secret document related to the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody every day in June on The Torture Report, at www.thetorturereport.org.
Through several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, the ACLU has uncovered tens of thousands of pages of formerly-secret government documents related to the abuse and torture of prisoners in U.S. custody overseas. The Torture Report, an initiative of the ACLU's National Security Project, aims to give the full account of the Bush administration's torture program by bringing together government documents, investigations, press reports, witness statements and other publications into a single narrative. Published serially online, The Torture Report is regularly updated, and subject to critical review and improvement as it unfolds.
"These documents leave no doubt that under the Bush administration the United States violated domestic and international bans on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, committing abuses we shielded from the eyes of the world," said Larry Siems, principal author of The Torture Report. "Few of these abuses have been properly investigated and still fewer prosecuted, and there is too little public conversation about our legal and ethical obligations to seek the healing and recovery of those we have abused. We cannot move forward until we fully confront the abuses of the past and hold accountable government officials who knew about and authorized the illegal torture program."
The Torture Report is online at: www.thetorturereport.org
More about the ACLU's torture FOIA litigation is at: www.aclu.org/accountability/