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Torture FOIA Version 2.0

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June 15, 2009

Many of the recent revelations about torture — including the “torture memos” released in April — have been a part of the ACLU’s five-year-old Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request related to the abuse and torture of prisoners in U.S. custody overseas. Since filing our initial Torture FOIA in 2003, we have obtained more than 100,000 pages from the government. These documents show both that hundreds of prisoners were tortured in the custody of the CIA and Department of Defense, and that the torture policies were devised and developed at the highest levels of the Bush administration.

Last Thursday, we filed a new lawsuit seeking the disclosure of even more still-secret records that the government has failed to turn over in response to a December 2008 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The records sought in the lawsuit include:

  • Documents between the White House and CIA concerning the use of the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”
  • A legal document dated July 22, 2002 from then-OLC lawyer Yoo to Alberto R. Gonzales regarding the applicability of the Convention Against Torture
  • A 2007 opinion written by then-OLC lawyer Steven Bradbury analyzing the legality of the interrogation techniques authorized for use in the CIA program under Common Article 3, the Detainee Treatment Act, and the War Crimes Act

Publicly available information, including the government’s own documents, confirm that crimes took place: dozens of detainees died as a result of brutal interrogations, and administration lawyers authorized techniques that our own government has criminally prosecuted for decades. But there are still unanswered questions about what the policies permitted, how they were implemented, and who specifically signed off on them. This lawsuit is an effort to fill some of the gaps in the narrative.

Head on over to our new Accountability for Torture site, where you can search the Torture FOIA documents we’ve received so far, learn more about the senior Bush administration officials who served as the architects of the torture program, and take action to demand accountability for torture today.

We can’t sweep the abuses of the last eight years under the rug. Accountability for torture is a legal, political, and moral imperative.

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