The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Gwen Fitzgerald, 202-544-0200 x260,
240-462-9076(c) or Tom Parker, 646-651-6508

Pressure Grows for Accountability with Torture Memos' Release

Hundreds of Amnesty International Activists Concluding In-District Lobbying This Week;


Following the release yesterday of four key torture memos from the Bush administration and the concurrent statements by President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives who carried out interrogations of terrorism suspects will not be prosecuted, Amnesty International USA's (AIUSA) counterterrorism expert Tom Parker released the following statement:

"The continuing startling revelations about Bush administration detention and interrogation practices and the Obama administration's handling of them point unequivocally to the need for an independent investigation to expose the full scope of the practices and those involved.

"Attorney General Holder said yesterday that the Obama administration does not condone torture, but by refusing to investigate the coercive interrogation program used by the CIA that is precisely what the administration is doing.

"After 50 years of interviewing torture victims, Amnesty International has found that abuse, especially when sanctioned at the highest levels, inevitably escalates over time. If the now-public Bybee memo sets out such shocking scenarios, imagine what followed in practice.

"Americans will not know the truth until a comprehensive, independent investigation has been conducted.

"The Bush administration knew that what it wanted the CIA to do in the field was illegal, which is precisely why the administration, in essence, 'lawyered up' by calling in the Office of Legal Counsel. Jay Bybee, John Yoo and Steven Bradbury ignored decades of jurisprudence in drafting the now-infamous torture memos. This is not a 'good faith' misunderstanding or a difference of legal opinion; this was a calculated decision to torture prisoners in U.S. custody."

During President Obama's first 100 days, AIUSA activists have mobilized nationwide to press for an independent commission of inquiry into U.S. policies on detainee interrogation and treatment.

This week, more than 200 face-to-face meetings occurred with Members of Congress and AIUSA delegations. President Obama and the U.S. Senate have received more than 50,000 e-mails and letters and more than 700 people have hosted events in their communities--all calling for accountability for abuse in the war on terror. On April 30 at 10 a.m., AIUSA and Witness Against Torture activists will make a last urgent call for action during Obama's first 100 days and march from the U.S. Capitol to the White House.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

Amnesty International is a global movement of millions of people demanding human rights for all people - no matter who they are or where they are. We are the world's largest grassroots human rights organization.

(212) 807-8400