October 30, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK - The government today handed over to the American Civil Liberties Union numerous documents in response to two ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits for information related to the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody overseas. Thousands of pages of documents detailing the interrogation of prisoners by the FBI, Department of Defense (DOD) and CIA have previously been made public as a result of the lawsuits.

“The documents released today add to our knowledge about the origins, scope and consequences of the Bush administration’s torture program,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. “The documents are also a reminder, however, of gross human rights abuses that have yet to be investigated seriously by Congress or the Justice Department (DOJ). The last administration's decision to endorse torture undermined the United States' moral authority and compromised its security, but the failure of the country's current leadership to fully confront the abuses of the last administration is only compounding these harms.”

Among the documents released today are a report from the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General relating to the involvement of FBI agents in the interrogations in Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq; documents gathered by the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General in preparing its report and CIA documents relating to interrogations at black sites overseas.

“The Bush administration authorized interrogators to use methods that the United States had previously prosecuted as war crimes, and the documents released today shed further light on the results of that decision,” said Alex Abdo, a legal fellow with the ACLU's National Security Project. “Though these documents add to the public record, many crucial documents – including CIA documents, in particular – are still being withheld. We urge the Obama administration to end the CIA’s use of the classification authority to suppress evidence of criminal conduct.”

In related litigation, the ACLU is seeking the release of photos depicting the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody overseas. The government has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s decision requiring the release of the photos. This week, President Obama signed a law that would allow the DOD to exempt photos in government custody from FOIA requests. The ACLU has formally asked the Secretary of Defense not to invoke the authority that the new law provides.

"The Obama administration pledged to be transparent and accountable to the American people. These photos are critical to understanding the abuses of the Bush interrogation program and ensuring that they never happen again,” said Abdo. “Americans have a right to know about the crimes that were committed in their name.”

For copies of the newly released documents, please contact the number above. The documents are available at:
www.aclu.org/national-security/released-government-documents-responsive-2004-torture-foia

More information about the ACLU's FOIA litigation is at:
www.aclu.org/accountability

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