ACLU Condemns Former CIA Directors' Attempt To Derail Justice Department Investigation Into Torture

September 18, 2009

Investigation Should Proceed Without Interference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – Former CIA directors, including some of the architects of the Bush administration's interrogation policies, today sent a letter to President Obama encouraging him to reverse Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to investigate whether crimes were committed in connection with the interrogation of detainees in U.S. custody overseas.

The American Civil Liberties Union has called on the Justice Department to conduct a comprehensive criminal investigation into the Bush administration's rendition, interrogation and detention program.

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

"Attorney General Holder initiated a criminal investigation because the available evidence shows that prisoners were abused and tortured in CIA custody. The suggestion that President Obama should order Attorney General Holder to abort the investigation betrays a misunderstanding of the role of the attorney general as well as the relationship between the attorney general and the president. Where there is evidence of criminal conduct, the attorney general has not just the authority but the duty to investigate. The attorney general is the people's lawyer, not the president's lawyer, and it would be profoundly inappropriate for President Obama to interfere with his work. 

"The attorney general's investigation should be allowed to proceed without interference, and it certainly should not be derailed by the self-serving protests of former CIA officials who oversaw the very crimes that are being investigated. If there is a problem with the unfolding criminal investigation, it is that its focus is too narrow. There is abundant evidence that torture was authorized at the highest levels of the Bush administration, and the Justice Department's investigation should be broad enough to encompass Bush administration lawyers and senior officials – including the CIA officials – who authorized torture."

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