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February 19, 2010, New York – In response to the release of the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) report on the conduct of the lawyers involved in crafting and providing legal cover for the illegal torture program, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
At first look, the long-awaited OPR report makes it abundantly clear that the decisions about the torture program took place at the highest level, and the damning description of the program further show that the torture memos were written to order by the lawyers from the Office of Legal Counsel who played a key role in creating the program. The report underscores the need for a more thorough investigation that has more scope and powers to follow the evidence.
Among others, the lawyers John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Steven Bradbury have caused incalculable damage to our country and to thousands of victims as a result of the twisted legal advice they provided while at the Office of Legal Counsel. The OLC opinions were intended to provide legal cover for what everyone knew was illegal conduct. They advised the establishment of the prison at Guantanamo outside the law through the purposeful evasion of the Geneva Conventions and they advised the creation of a secret detention network for “enhanced interrogations” in flagrant violation of domestic and international law. Once unthinkable, they authorized and justified torture, rendition and secret CIA detention, often in a hands-on manner so detailed that it gives the lie to the notion they were giving abstract legal advice rather than making policy decisions to use torture
Ultimately Jay Bybee must be impeached, tried and removed from his seat as a federal judge on the 9th Circuit, but he should have the decency to resign immediately.
While the OPR should have recommended state bar associations professionally sanction the attorneys for ethics violations, and it is clear these men should be disbarred and prevented from ever practicing law again, we call on Attorney General Eric Holder to order these men criminally investigated by an independent special prosecutor who is allowed to follow the facts where they lead, all the way up the chain of command. We further call on the state bar associations, who are in no way bound by the conclusions of the report, to sanction the torture lawyers.
In addition, we demand that the OLC and CIA release the all of the records CCR is seeking with co-counsel through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in Amnesty International, CCR, et al. v. CIA, about the CIA’s torture, rendition and secret detention practices. The time has come for the public to see all of the documents that show the role these lawyers played in fashioning one of the most shameful sets of practices ever to emanate from Washington. A review of the OPR Report further confirms the illegal nature of the CIA’s practices; the government cannot abuse the FOIA to conceal these illegal or embarrassing government actions.
To read the OPR Report click here.
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last eight years – sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with a former CIA “ghost detainee” there. CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country in order to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. In addition, CCR has been working to resettle the approximately 60 men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture. CCR also has several lawsuits representing men who were tortured and abused or died in U.S. custody.
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.