ACLU Agrees To Extension Of Torture Memo Deadline Based On DOJ Pledge To Consider Releasing Bybee Memo

April 2, 2009 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The Justice Department has sought an extension of the government’s deadline to decide whether to disclose three legal memoranda authored in May 2005 by Steven Bradbury, then a lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). The memos authorized the CIA to subject prisoners to torture methods including waterboarding. In ongoing Freedom of Information Act litigation brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, a federal judge had given the Justice Department until today to disclose the memos or explain its refusal to do so. The ACLU has consented to extend the production deadline to April 16 in return for the government’s representation that high-level officials will consider the release not only of the Bradbury memos but also a memo authored in August 2002 by Jay S. Bybee, who was then the head of the OLC. The Bush administration had previously withheld the Bybee memo.

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

“We reluctantly consented to this extension based on the government’s representation that within two weeks it will re-review not only the May 2005 Bradbury memos included in today’s deadline but also the August 2002 Bybee memo that was one of the cornerstones of the CIA’s torture program. Collectively, these memos supplied the framework for an interrogation program that permitted the most barbaric forms of abuse, violated domestic and international law, alienated America’s allies and yielded information that was both unreliable and unusable in court. Using national security as a pretext, the Bush administration managed to suppress these memos for years, denying the public crucial information about government policy and shielding government officials from accountability. While we are disappointed that the Bradbury memos were not released today, we are optimistic that the extension will result in the release of information that would not otherwise have been available to the public.”

The Justice Department’s letter seeking an extension is available online at:

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