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Rights Group Responds to President Obama’s Comments Today
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April 16, 2009, New York – In response to President Obama’s statement today that the decision to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Bush officials who committed crimes related to the Torture Program and other issues was up to the Attorney General, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
"There is clearly movement on this issue—the public outcry has been too great for the president to ignore. With two thirds of Americans supporting investigations and 40 percent supporting criminal prosecutions, he can no longer repeat his evasions about looking forward not backward. The sickening details in the torture memos brought it home: we have the evidence, and to sweep it under the carpet would be to create a system where every administration can commit whatever crimes it chooses with complete security in the knowledge that they will never be held to account.
"The Attorney General is entrusted with upholding the law where crimes are committed, not making a political decision as to whether the president believes it is expedient to do so. Earlier statements by Eric Holder and President Obama indicated they had prejudged the situation, which is exactly why we need an independent prosecutor. Let the House Judiciary Committee impeach Jay Bybee from his bench on the Court of Appeals, and let a special prosecutor investigate the entire torture team, from the other lawyers who created spurious legal cover for the program to the high level officials who approved and executed it: Cheney, Tenet, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Addington, Rice, Bush, Yoo, Feith, Bradbury, Haynes and others."
CCR launched a campaign to hold former officials accountable for their crimes. In addition, CCR has arranged for online submission of letters to Rep. Conyers demanding impeachment hearings for Torture Memo author and sitting federal judge Jay Bybee
Since the first days of the public revelations regarding the Bush administration’s torture program, the Center for Constitutional Rights has made efforts to hold high level officials and their lawyers accountable for their crimes. CCR, along with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), has tried three times, twice in Germany and once in France, to bring criminal cases in Europe against former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, former CIA director George Tenet, and former White House Counsel/Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as well as the other lawyers who were part of the conspiracy that authorized the torture program in Guantanamo, Iraq, secret CIA sites, and elsewhere. The German case is still pending. CCR also has torture cases pending in U.S. courts.
For more information on the German case, visit CCR's page on German war crimes complaint against Rumsfeld. Also see CCR's factsheet on accountability and prosecutions for torture.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.