Congressional Report Reaffirms Involvement Of High Level Bush Officials In Torture Policies

April 22, 2009

Armed Services Committee Report Furthers Case For Independent Prosecutor 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312 or media@dcaclu.org  

WASHINGTON – A landmark congressional report released today sheds new light on the coordination among the Bush White House and other high level government officials in the creation and implementation of torture policies. The report was released by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) after being declassified by the government and is a result of the committee’s two-year long investigation into the Department of Defense’s (DOD) role in the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody.  

“Once again, we are presented with clear-cut evidence that the Bush administration’s highest ranking officials were not only complicit in the use of torture, but were actively engaged in its implementation. It is now time to act on this evidence,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “We can no longer pretend there is any doubt that crimes were committed and the Justice Department should respond accordingly. No one is above the law. An independent prosecutor must be appointed to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation.”  

The American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the declassification of the report and Chairman Levin and Ranking Member McCain should be commended for initiating the investigation and making its findings public. 

As part of its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the ACLU recently obtained four memos produced by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel outlining the Bush administration’s legal framework for its torture policies. The ACLU has been calling for years for an independent criminal investigation into the interrogation techniques used by the federal government against detainees held by the United States. Based on documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act litigation brought by the ACLU, several congressional hearings and this latest committee report, it is clear that important decisions on the use of torture and abuse were made in the White House, at the Pentagon, and at the headquarters of the CIA and the Justice Department.

“This report makes frighteningly clear that some of the darkest moments in our country’s recent past were choreographed at the highest levels of government,” said Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel. “The days of privates and sergeants being the only people charged with torture or abuse crimes—while top government officials go free—should be over. The people who were at the very top of the Bush administration and those at the top of the chain of command must be held accountable. Just as any other American would be investigated by a prosecutor for crimes committed, so must our government officials. We must ensure that our laws are impartially enforced against everyone.” 

To read the OLC memos obtained by the ACLU, go to: www.aclu.org/olcmemos 

To learn more about the ACLU’s work on torture issues, go to: www.aclu.org/torture

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