Justice Department Must Appoint Prosecutor To Investigate Torture Crimes, Says ACLU

April 21, 2009 12:00 am

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Congress Must Also Investigate Bush Policies

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NEW YORK – President Obama today suggested that the attorney general should consider prosecuting those who formulated the legal decisions that purported to justify torture under the Bush administration, and that Congress could play a role in achieving accountability.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union:

“While President Obama rightly asserts that our government lost its moral bearings when it implemented torture policies, we must not forget that it also broke the law. Torture is a crime, and we are hopeful that President Obama’s comments today signal a new acknowledgment of the need for criminal investigations of those who authorized, legally justified and carried out these unlawful acts.

“President Obama was right to leave the ultimate decision to Attorney General Holder, as the Justice Department must fulfill its law enforcement mandate independent of political considerations.

“Both Congress and the executive branch must play an active role in seeking accountability. While a congressional select committee must investigate what went wrong and craft legislation to prevent its reoccurrence, the Justice Department must appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate those who took part in these horrific acts of torture.

“Any suggestion that pursuing criminal prosecutions would be a political act is backwards logic; indeed, to ignore the mountains of evidence pointing to such shameful criminal activity would be the ultimate act of political cynicism. Accountability is not retribution; it is justice.”

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