Full ICRC Report Further Underscores Extent Of Torture And Abuse By U.S. Officials

April 7, 2009 12:00 am

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Justice Department Should Appoint Independent Prosecutor And Turn Over Torture Memos, Says ACLU

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NEW YORK – A full report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) made public late Monday on the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody further underscores the extent of the systemic and far-reaching use of torture by American personnel and provides further evidence of the need for accountability for government officials who broke the law.

In light of this report – the newly revealed portions of which emphasize the role played by medical personnel in torture and abuse – the American Civil Liberties Union renews its call for the Justice Department to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the authorization of torture at CIA prisons and for the release of several legal memoranda used by the Bush administration to justify it. The memos, authored by former Office of Legal Counsel officials Steven Bradbury and Jay Bybee and demanded as part of an ACLU Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, supplied the legal framework for the Bush administration’s interrogation program. The deadline for the government to release the memos or justify withholding them is April 16.

The ACLU, through its John Adams Project with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, has worked with under-resourced military lawyers to provide legal counsel for several of the Guantánamo detainees whose treatment was addressed in the ICRC report.

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

“The ICRC report provides further confirmation of the systemic use of torture against prisoners in CIA custody and underscores that the CIA’s torture program was endorsed and authorized at the highest levels of the Bush administration. The Justice Department must now make good on President Obama’s commitment to transparency by making public the legal memos that supplied the basis for the CIA’s torture program. It’s also imperative that the Justice Department appoint an independent prosecutor to conduct a criminal investigation. Government officials who violated the law should not be shielded from investigation. Transparency and accountability are critical to the restoration of the rule of law.”

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