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Bush-Era Torture Memos Released to ACLU

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April 16, 2009

This afternoon, the Justice Department released four secret memos used by the Bush administration to justify torture. Authored by then-Office of Legal Counsel attorneys Steven Bradbury and Jay Bybee, the memos provided the legal framework for the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other illegal interrogation methods that violate domestic and international law. The memos were released with minimal redactions.

Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project, said today:

Through these memos, Justice Department lawyers authorized interrogators to use the most barbaric interrogation methods, including methods that the U.S. once prosecuted as war crimes. The memos are based on legal reasoning that is spurious on its face, and in the end these aren’t legal memos at all – they are simply political documents that were meant to provide window dressing for war crimes. While the memos should never have been written, we welcome their release today. Transparency is a first step towards accountability.

The documents provide further conformation that government lawyers distorted the law to support the Bush administration’s torture program. It’s time to demand accountability for torture: tell Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate these crimes. The Obama administration has taken an admirable first step towards transparency by releasing these memos. Now it’s time to restore this country’s reputation at home and abroad, and show that no one is above the law.

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