Frist Kills Pentagon Spending Bill to Protect Abusive Interrogations; Top Torture Scandal Figure Gets Confirmation Hearing

July 26, 2005 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed deep concern that-on the same day as the Senate majority leader canceled a vote on the entire Pentagon spending bill because of an amendment that would have banned cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment-a top figure in the ongoing torture scandal is being promoted to the number two post at the Justice Department.

That nominee is Timothy Flanigan, who also served as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s deputy in 2001 and 2002, when Gonzales was White House counsel.

“Once again, while the privates and sergeants get marched off to jail, the policy-makers get promoted,” said Christopher Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “This nomination means that the nation’s top two law enforcement officials at the Justice Department, which normally would be responsible for prosecuting any wrongdoing, will be men who are up to their eyeballs in this scandal.”

Flanigan’s nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon comes on the same day that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), canceled consideration of next year’s Pentagon spending bill because it contained an amendment by Senator John McCain (R-AZ), that would have banned the cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment of detainees.

At the White House, Flanigan was one of a handful of administration lawyers responsible for determining the scope of acceptable interrogation and detention policies in the “Global War on Terrorism.” He currently serves as general counsel at Tyco.

It was these interrogation policies, the ACLU said, that set the stage in the four years since 9/11 for the detainee abuse or torture that was on display most starkly at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad and at Guantanamo Bay. The ACLU noted several troubling instances in which Mr. Flanigan has been identified as a key figure in this policy-making.

Flanigan, for instance, is on record defending water-boarding: “We did not want to leave permanent damage,” he told the American Prospect. He was also one of the primary engines behind the creation of an entirely new system of military commissions for detainees. These proceedings were to feature far fewer due process protection than even military courts, including the use of secret evidence, no outside appeals process and fewer restrictions on the death penalty.

In order to fully explore Flanigan’s role in these policy discussions, the ACLU called on the administration to release the most sought-after classified document in the torture debate: an official Justice Department memorandum to the C.I.A. authorizing, among other things, the use of “water-boarding,” which simulates the sensation of drowning.

The ACLU said that it was particularly concerned at the White House’s recent decisions to promote senior military and administration officials involved in the torture scandal.

These officials include: Attorney General Gonzales; Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the three-star top commander in Iraq, who is reportedly under consideration for a four-star command; Judge Jay S. Bybee, who drafted the administration memorandum narrowly defining torture while at the Justice Department, and who was appointed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003; and William J. Haynes, general counsel at the Pentagon and a nominee to the Fourth Circuit.

Although the ACLU does not take positions on executive branch nominations, it urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose moving forward on the nomination until it has fully investigated the questions the ACLU raised in its letter.

“The administration continues to block the American people from a full and thorough review of whether the federal government has violated the Constitution and broken the rule of law,” Anders said. “The time for that conversation is now.”

To read the ACLU’s letter to the committee on Timothy Flanigan’s record, go to:

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