ACLU Commends House Judiciary Subcommittee for Continued Investigation into Whether High-Level Officials Authorized Torture

June 25, 2008 12:00 am

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Calls on subcommittee to press Addington and Yoo for detailed descriptions of their roles – and the roles of other top officials – in authorizing or ordering torture

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Contact: (202) 675-2312, media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union commends Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties for their continued efforts to uncover the full extent of this administration’s approval of torture in the interrogation of detainees. Tomorrow’s hearing is the last in a series of three held by the subcommittee on torture, and the first time both David Addington, chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, and John Yoo, formerly of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), are scheduled to testify before Congress on their roles in approving the use of torture. An important focus of the series of hearings has been whether high-level government officials violated federal criminal laws against torture and abuse.

“The president and his advisors are bound, by law and by duty, to uphold our nation’s Constitution. But time and time again, this administration has placed partisan politics and a seemingly insatiable hunger for power above its responsibility to our nation,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The ACLU calls on Congress to get to the bottom of the authorization to use torture and to determine how high in the administration crimes of torture and abuse were ordered or authorized.”

It has been widely reported that David Addington assumed a major role in policy-making in the Bush administration, advocating that the executive branch has nearly unlimited authority in times of conflict, and helped shape legal opinions and executive orders that attempted to shield top government officials from prosecution. John Yoo helped draft OLC opinions that were intended to narrow the scope of anti-torture laws in an attempt to provide immunity to government officials who ordered torture and abuse.

“David Addington has spent nearly seven years in the shadows undermining legal protections against torture and abuse. Chairman Nadler and the subcommittee are determined to shine the bright light of congressional oversight into the darkest corners of White House decisions on torture,” added Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel. “It is now clear that the most important decisions on the use of torture and abuse were made in the White House and at the highest levels of the Bush Administration. But the job for Congress is to determine exactly who did what, and what criminal laws were broken.”

The ACLU letter calling on Attorney General Michael Mukasey to appoint an independent prosecutor to ensure that any criminal acts are investigated and prosecuted without partisan interference can be found at: www.aclu.org/safefree/general/33530leg20080107.html

In October 2003, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records concerning the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody abroad. While more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to the ACLU’s FOIA lawsuit, the government continues to withhold many vital records and litigation is ongoing. The documents received in the ACLU’s FOIA litigation are online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/torturefoia.html

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