House Judiciary Committee Discusses Detainee Interrogations

December 20, 2007 12:00 am

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UPDATE – 1/3/2008

News: The Justice Department has ordered a formal criminal investigation into the destruction of Central Intelligence Agency interrogation videotapes. (New York Times) More >>

Opinion: Announcement of investigation into destruction of tapes is heartening. (New York Times) More >>

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Washington, DC – As the House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing today to examine whether federal criminal laws apply to the interrogations of detainees, the American Civil Liberties Union reiterates its call that Attorney General Mukasey appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any violations of federal criminal laws, including possible obstruction of justice, that resulted from these interrogations.

“If federal criminal laws do not apply to the American personnel who are conducting the interrogations of detainees, then Guantanamo Bay has truly become a lawless black hole,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “There needs to be a level of accountability and order to prevent total chaos, as we saw in Abu Ghraib in 2004. If federal crimes have been committed during any interrogations, those individuals need to be prosecuted. Letting anyone who may have broken the law off the hook would be saying the government is above the rule of law.”

Last Thursday, the ACLU Washington Legislative Office sent a detailed 12-page letter to Congress urging them to ask that Mukasey appoint an independent prosecutor. The letter outlined ten reasons why such an appointment is warranted.

Additionally, it was disclosed yesterday by the New York Times that four White House lawyers discussed the destruction of the CIA interrogation videotapes much more extensively than the executive branch previously admitted.

“The disclosure yesterday that the White House was much more involved in discussions with the CIA reeks of a cover-up,” said Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel. “It is now clear that more arrows are pointing to the White House. The American people need to know what President Bush knew about the torture program, including the tapes, and when he first knew it. The Bush administration cannot be trusted to investigate itself and it is past time that an independent prosecutor be appointed to investigate any criminal wrongdoing.”

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