Attorney General Holder To Appoint Prosecutor To Investigate Torture

August 24, 2009 12:00 am

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Release Of CIA Torture Report Underscores Need For Full Investigation, Says ACLU

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NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric Holder will appoint a special prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees in U.S. custody overseas under the Bush administration.

Attorney General Holder said his decision to appoint a special prosecutor was in part influenced by the contents of a CIA inspector general report made public today as part of an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The IG report provides a detailed description of torture and abuse of detainees and addresses the legality and effectiveness of the agency’s “enhanced interrogation” program.

“While this is a welcome first step, we are disappointed that Attorney General Holder still appears unwilling to conduct a full investigation and to prosecute any crimes that are uncovered. A preliminary investigation absent a commitment to prosecute violations of the law is simply anemic. How much evidence of wrongdoing and violations of law is necessary before the attorney general commits to launching a full investigation?” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “The CIA’s own inspector general documented in disturbing detail the level of the torture committed and the extent to which laws were broken. Attorney General Holder’s decision not to launch a full investigation is deeply troubling given the evidence already in the public domain of crimes that were committed. Any investigation that truly follows the facts where they lead would inevitably lead to prosecutions of high level officials – not just rogue agents in the field. This issue will not go away by deferring the hard decisions.”

The version of the IG report made public today includes newly unredacted sections and details of serious detainee abuse in CIA custody that were previously unknown. According to the report, agents committed mock executions and threatened to harm at least one detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, with a gun and a power drill if he did not cooperate with the interrogation. Al-Nashiri is represented by military attorneys assisted by the John Adams Project, a joint effort by the ACLU and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to provide support for the under resourced military defense counsel in the Guantánamo military commissions.

“The Obama administration made a commitment to transparency, and the release of the IG report is a step in the right direction. The American public has a right to know the full truth about the torture that was committed in its name,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security project. “The information in the report about the origins and scope of the CIA’s torture program further underscores the need for a comprehensive investigation into the torture of detainees and those who authorized it.”

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.

The CIA IG report is available online at:

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

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