ACLU Sharply Condemns Bush Administration’s Secret Torture Memos

October 4, 2007 12:00 am

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Group Renews Call for Investigation and Oversight

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today sharply condemned the secret endorsement by the Justice Department of the most barbaric interrogation practices ever used by the CIA. The secret memos justifying the use of torture are at odds with public assurances by both the White House and the Justice Department that “abhorrent” torture methods would not be used on terror suspects. The memos also appear to be a cynical attempt to shield interrogators from criminal liability and to perpetuate the administration’s unlawful interrogation practices. One legal opinion, which gave explicit authorization to abuse terror suspects with a disturbing mix of physical and psychological interrogation practices including waterboarding, was approved in 2005 and reported by the New York Times today.

“Although President Bush himself has said, ‘we do not torture,’ the Justice Department’s torture opinions tell a very different—and shameful—story,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director. “After experiencing nearly three years of a broken Justice Department under an attorney general with one of the worst civil liberties legacies in our nation’s history, it is long overdue for the Bush administration to come clean on its record on torture. This despicable episode highlights the need for renewed scrutiny and accountability.”

In light of the Justice Department’s torture memos, the ACLU is requesting:

  • The appointment of an independent special counsel to investigate what appears to be an extensive, long-term pattern of misusing Justice Department authority to insulate individuals from criminal prosecution for torture and abuse, and, if appropriate, the prosecution of any person who violated federal laws protecting detainees against torture and abuse and in violation of U.S. obligations under international law.
  • The public release of all Justice Department documents that permit the use of any interrogation or detention practices that are not authorized by the Army Field Manual on Interrogations, as well as any documents interpreting or analyzing any legal prohibitions on torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.
  • Nothing less than a complete repudiation by Attorney General-designate Michael Mukasey of the Justice Department’s legal opinions on torture at his confirmation hearings before the Senate.

“The Justice Department’s torture memos reveal, once again, a brazen willingness to flout the rule of law. Lip-service and empty gestures are not enough to protect the Constitution,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Congress must call for nothing less than a complete disavowal of these abhorrent practices from the next attorney general before confirmation. Congress must not only end the administration’s torture practices once and for all, but it must vigorously engage in oversight and restore our Constitution and American values.”

More information on the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. military custody is available at:

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