ACLU Calls On Government To Release CIA Torture Report With Minimal Redactions

August 21, 2009 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today called on the Obama administration to release the CIA’s Inspector General (IG) report on the legality and effectiveness of the agency’s “enhanced interrogation” program without significant redactions. The government is required to turn over the report on August 24 in connection with a long-running ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking documents related to the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody overseas. The CIA is also facing an August 31 deadline to turn over dozens of additional documents related to the Inspector General’s investigation and the CIA’s torture program in general.

“President Obama made a commitment to transparency and accountability, and it’s time for his administration to make good on that promise,” said Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU. “The CIA Inspector General report is a crucial document that would shed light on the origins and scope of the CIA’s torture program. The American public has a right to know the full truth about the torture that was committed in its name.”

The CIA turned over a heavily redacted version of the IG report in May 2008, but earlier this year the government agreed to review the same report with a view toward disclosing more information. In the version made public last year, the section on the lawfulness of the program was partially redacted and the section on effectiveness was entirely redacted. Sections on waterboarding were also redacted.

The CIA’s deadline to turn over the less-redacted report comes as Attorney General Eric Holder is reportedly planning to make an announcement about an investigation into torture that occurred under the Bush administration. News reports indicate the scope of the planned investigation was influenced by the contents of the IG report. In the past, President Obama has said that those who relied “in good faith” on legal advice provided by the Office of Legal Counsel will not be prosecuted.

“Reports that Attorney General Holder will appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the torture of prisoners are encouraging,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. “Attorney General Holder said that he would restore the independence and integrity of the Justice Department, and the appointment of a prosecutor to investigate torture would be a sign that he takes that commitment seriously. It’s critical, though, that the scope of any criminal investigation be determined not by political considerations but by the facts. The prosecutor must not be precluded from investigating the criminal responsibility of senior officials who authorized torture or wrote the memos that were used to justify it. An investigation that begins and ends with so-called ‘rogue’ interrogators would be indefensible given the evidence that is already in the public domain. Nor should any ‘good faith’ limitation be used as a shield for interrogators who knew or should have known that they were violating the law. The prosecutor must be allowed to follow the facts where they lead.”

The expected release of the CIA’s IG report is part of a long-running ACLU lawsuit that, since 2003, has resulted in the release of tens of thousands of pages concerning the abuse and torture of prisoners in U.S. custody. Among the documents that have been released as a result of the lawsuit are the four OLC torture memos that were made public in April 2009, FBI emails discussing the abuse and torture of prisoners at Guantanamo, directives that permitted interrogators in Iraq to use methods that violate domestic and international law and autopsy reports documenting the deaths of prisoners held by the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq.

More information about the ACLU’s FOIA litigation is available online at:

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