Demand Full Disclosure and Investigation of Bush Administration Torture Policies
Senate leadership is trying to steamroll the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General, but senators still have an opportunity to demand that Gonzales appoint an independent special counsel to investigate the development and implementation of U.S. interrogation and torture policies and to fully release all torture-related documents.
Despite loudly repeated demands by Congress and the American people, the Bush Administration has successfully blocked the release of an array of documents related to policy changes that paved the way for the horrors of Abu Ghraib and other American-operated detention facilities. These documents -- such as those on the ""Top Ten List"" of torture-related documents requested by the ACLU -- would help ensure the public and Congress have complete information about the development of policies that inevitably led to the use of torture by Americans.
It is also important that Gonzales agree to appoint an outside special counsel because already-released documents, including memoranda that were either written or requested by Gonzales, clearly show that top government officials considered and eventually ordered the removal of protections against many abusive detention and interrogation practices. Gonzales should not be allowed to head an investigation of matters that would include his own actions.
Take action! Urge your senators to demand torture-related documents and to get Gonzales to commit to appoint an outside special counsel to investigate any criminal conduct by civilians in ordering, or paving the way for, torture or abuse of prisoners.
The Bush Administration should immediately release all key torture-related documents. The ACLU has issued a Top Ten List of torture-related documents needed to shed light on the interrogation policies that authorized or allowed abuse or torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere. The Senate cannot meaningfully consider the Gonzales nomination without, at minimum, reviewing these documents. In addition, the Administration must commit to the prompt release of all other torture-related documents.
Gonzales must agree to appoint an outside special counsel. An outside special counsel is the only way to ensure that all civilians who violated -- or conspired to violate -- the Anti-Torture Act, and other federal laws against torture and abuse will be fully investigated and held responsible for their criminal acts. The Senate should not let Gonzales lead an investigation of matters in which he and numerous other high-level officials presumably would be questioned.
It is time for the Senate to demand accountability and responsibility. A small number of enlisted men and women in the military and a few low-ranking military officers should not be the only individuals held responsible for the torture and abuse that repulsed all Americans. The Senate and the American public must demand that the government come clean on the actions of high-level officials, and that all civilians who engaged in misconduct be held responsible.