Bush Admits To Knowledge of Torture Authorization by Top Advisers

April 12, 2008

ACLU Calls for Independent Counsel to Investigate Administration's Approval of Torture and Abuse

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312, media@dcaclu.org; (917) 251-8654 or media@aclu.org

TAKE ACTION Demand Accountability for Bush's Top-Down Torture Policy

WASHINGTON – In a stunning admission to ABC news Friday night, President Bush declared that he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details of the CIA's use of torture. Bush reportedly told ABC, "I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved." Bush also defended the use of waterboarding.

Recent reports indicate that high-level advisers including Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and George Tenet were part of the National Security Council's "Principals Committee" that met regularly and approved the CIA's use of "combined" "enhanced" interrogation techniques, even pushing the limits of the now infamous 2002 Justice Department "torture memo." These top advisers reportedly signed off on how the CIA would interrogate suspects – whether they would be slapped, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning.

"We have always known that the CIA's use of torture was approved from the very top levels of the U.S. government, yet the latest revelations about knowledge from the president himself and authorization from his top advisers only confirms our worst fears," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "It is a very sad day when the president of the United States subverts the Constitution, the rule of law, and American values of justice."

Romero added, "It is more important than ever that the U.S. government, when seeking justice against those it suspects of harming us, adhere to our commitment to due process and the rule of law. That's why the ACLU has taken the extraordinary step to offer our assistance to those being prosecuted under the unconstitutional military commissions process. We unfortunately can't erase or make up for what has already happened, but at least we can attempt to restore some of the values and some semblance of due process that the Bush administration has squandered in the name of national security."

The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on Congress to demand an independent prosecutor to investigate possible violations by the Bush administration of laws including the War Crimes Act, the federal Anti-Torture Act, and federal assault laws.

"No one in the executive branch of government can be trusted to fairly investigate or prosecute any crimes since the head of every relevant department, along with the president and vice president, either knew or participated in the planning and approval of illegal acts," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Congress cannot look the other way; it must demand an independent investigation and independent prosecutor."

Fredrickson added, "Congress is duty-bound by the Constitution not only to hold the president, vice president, and all civil officers to account, but it must also send a message to future presidents that it will use its constitutional powers to prevent illegal, and immoral conduct."

The ACLU's letter calling for an independent prosecutor for torture crimes and any criminal cover up is available at:
www.aclu.org/pdfs/safefree/lettertocongress_2007_1213.pdf

ABC's recent news story is available online at:
abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/LawPolitics/story?id=4635175&page=1

Information on the ACLU's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit revealing information on the U.S.'s treatment of detainees is available online at:
www.aclu.org/torturefoia

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