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Following New Revelations About Government Willingness To Let Torture Crimes Go Unpunished, ACLU Calls For Accountability

NEW YORK - An Associated Press story today revealed new information about the extent to which the U.S. government has thus far failed to hold officials accountable for torture under the Bush administration, including those responsible for the kidnapping, extraordinary rendition and torture of innocent German national Khaled El-Masri. Among other things, the story gives specific examples of government officials known to be involved in abuse and torture who have not been punished, and have instead advanced into leadership positions.

In December 2005, the American Civil Liberties Union sued former CIA Director George Tenet and others on El-Masri's behalf, seeking compensation and an apology for subjecting him to the unlawful extraordinary rendition program. The lawsuit charged Tenet and others with violating U.S. and universal human rights laws. In March 2007, a federal appeals court dismissed the lawsuit because of the government's assertion of the "state secrets" privilege, and the U.S. Supreme Court let that decision stand when it refused to hear the case.

The following can be attributed to Ben Wizner, Litigation Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

“These latest revelations demonstrate that when the executive branch is left to police itself, even torture and homicide may go unpunished. The CIA’s failure to discipline its officials who ordered the kidnapping and torture of an innocent man underscores the urgent need for judicial accountability. Yet each and every victim of the CIA’s torture program who has sought redress in U.S. courts has been turned away and told to seek non-judicial remedies. Holding government officials accountable for sanctioning torture in the past is essential to stopping torture in the future.”

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

"The new report is a reminder of the brutality of the CIA's torture program and of how little has been done to hold accountable those who oversaw it. The Justice Department should fully investigate the program and the senior officials who authorized it, not just the interrogators who implemented it. A failure to do so would do lasting damage to America’s ability to advocate for human rights in other countries and severely erode the rule of law here at home.” 


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