The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mandy Simon, ACLU, (202) 675-2312;; David Swanson,, (202) 329-7847 cell,;
Doug Gordon, Political Action, (202) 822-5200; Trevor
Fitzgibbon, Fitzgibbon Media for, (202) 506-7162; Jen
Nessel, Center for Constitutional Rights, (212) 614-6449,

A Quarter Million Americans Demand Torture Prosecutions

Broad Coalition Of Advocacy Groups Present Attorney General With Petition


broad coalition of advocacy groups today will deliver petitions
containing a quarter million signatures to Attorney General Eric Holder
demanding that he appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the
Bush administration's use of torture on terrorism suspects. The
petitions were gathered by the American Civil Liberties Union, Political Action, the Center for Constitutional Rights,, and other advocacy groups. The petitions
will be delivered during Holder's testimony before a House
Appropriations Subcommittee.

week, through its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the ACLU obtained
four memos produced by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel
(OLC) outlining the Bush administration's legal framework for its
torture policies. This week, a watershed congressional report was
released by the Senate Armed Services Committee reaffirming the
coordination among the Bush White House and other high level government
officials in the creation and implementation of torture policies.
the substantial amount of new torture evidence presented to Americans
over the past week, the Justice Department is obligated to appoint an
independent prosecutor to investigate these crimes. The fact that
crimes were committed in the interrogation of detainees can no longer
be doubted or debated, nor can the need for an independent prosecutor
be ignored by any Justice Department committed to restoring the rule of
law. The idea that our laws should be enforced should not be
controversial in a democracy.
In fact, a recent poll from USA Today and Gallup
shows that two thirds of Americans support investigations into the use
of torture by the Bush administration and 40 percent support criminal
is a crime. It is the attorney general's job to make sure
investigations occur to determine exactly who authorized, sanctioned
and carried it out so those people can be held accountable," said
Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative
Office. "We're urging Attorney General Holder to promptly appoint an
independent prosecutor so our country can move towards restoring the
rule of law."
is illegal under the laws of our nation--this is not a question of left
or right; it's a question of America's moral leadership," said Justin
Ruben, Executive Director of Political Action. "This week
our members joined the growing chorus of voices asking the Attorney
General to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these
abuses. By showing these actions have real consequences, we can we make
sure nothing like this ever happens again."
is the Attorney General's duty to uphold the law, not to decide which
laws to uphold based on the president's political calculus. The Bush
administration compromised the independence of the Department of
Justice, turning it into a political arm of the White House," said
Center for Constitutional Rights Executive Director Vincent Warren.
"Let us hope Eric Holder understands that what the president desires
and the law requires is not always the same thing."
Jane Hamsher, founder,
"The release of the torture memos demonstrates how critical it is that
Attorney General Holder appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the
use of torture. We cannot move forward and fulfill President Obama's
commitment to restore the nation's moral standing until we clean up the
legacy of our past."
Swanson, Washington Director of "Torturing people to
compel agreement with fictional justifications for war suggests that we
have not advanced greatly during the past millennium. And yet I know
that we have, and that we can prove it by enforcing our laws in the
face of fear and misunderstanding. A delay cannot be justified by a
lack of evidence (the evidence is overwhelming) or by a political
calculation. Appointing an independent special counsel to enforce our
laws would give a new basis for progress in our relations with the
world, a rationale for improving our criminal code moving forward, and
the necessary space for congress to properly pursue accountability and
prevention of future abuses of power."