The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312;
Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666;

House Committee Releases Deposition of OLC Torture Memo Author Jay Bybee

ACLU Calls for Expanded Torture Investigation


The House Judiciary Committee today released a transcript from its closed-door deposition of former high-ranking Justice Department lawyer Jay Bybee. As head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) under President George W. Bush, Bybee authored and signed two memoranda dated August 1, 2002 that provided the legal framework for the Bush administration's torture program. Bybee is now a federal appeals court judge.

According to Bybee's testimony, the OLC did not approve many of the torture techniques used on detainees by the CIA. He stated that the memos he wrote did not authorize the "substantial repetition" of OLC-approved techniques including waterboarding and that the August 2002 advice was limited to one specific detainee.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has referred the transcript of the Bybee deposition to Justice Department prosecutors so that it may be used in the department's ongoing investigation being led by Justice Department prosecutor John Durham.

The following can be attributed to Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel:

"The House Judiciary Committee's deposition of Judge Bybee is extraordinarily important because it is Exhibit A in defeating the mistaken argument that there was some kind of 'golden shield' against liability for torture crimes. But while Bybee's testimony is an important piece of the torture puzzle, there has still been amazingly little oversight and no accountability over the most central piece of the puzzle: decisions made in the Bush White House itself. The deposition confirms what we've known for years - that these policies were authorized and carried out at the highest ranks of the Bush administration. It is now up to Congress and Justice Department prosecutors to continue their work to investigate high level Bush administration involvement and to ensure that no one is above the law."

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:

"The documents released today shed further light on the origins of the Bush administration's torture program. They also make it even clearer that the Justice Department needs to conduct a comprehensive criminal investigation. In recent months, many other countries - including some of America's closest allies - have begun to examine their responsibility for the abuse and torture of prisoners in U.S. custody. Indeed, the United States is increasingly isolated in its unwillingness to investigate the roots of the torture program, its refusal to compensate torture survivors and its failure to hold accountable the senior government officials who authorized interrogators to use torture. Judge Bybee's testimony underscores what we've been saying for a long time: that the Justice Department should be conducting an investigation that encompasses not just low-level interrogators but senior government officials who authorized torture."

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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