The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666;

Justice Department Wrong to Let Torture Lawyers Off the Hook, Says ACLU

Extensive Evidence Exists to Hold Yoo and Bybee Accountable for Their Role in Torture


he American Civil Liberties Union today condemned a statement by the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicating that it will not prosecute two lawyers who helped develop the Bush-era torture program. In a letter to Spanish Judge Eloy Velasco Nunez dated March 1 but made public yesterday, the DOJ stated that it would not prosecute Jay Bybee and John Yoo, former DOJ lawyers who authored memos that provided the legal basis for the torture program, because an earlier investigation by Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis concluded that Bybee and Yoo exercised poor judgment but did not violate ethical norms. Margolis was not a criminal investigator, however, and he did not have the mandate to examine issues of criminal responsibility.

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

"The Justice Department's contention that 'there exists no basis' for the prosecution of Bush administration lawyers who authorized torture is simply indefensible. These lawyers wrote memos to green-light interrogation methods that the United States has always considered to be illegal, and prisoners were tortured in U.S. custody as a result. They should have provided bona fide legal advice, but instead they served as knowing facilitators of criminal conduct. The Justice Department says that there are ongoing investigations into the abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody, but if these investigations focus on 'rogue interrogators,' they are too narrow. The core problem was not one of rogue interrogators but one of senior government officials who knowingly authorized the gravest crimes."

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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