December 9 marks the two-year anniversary of the release of the Executive Summary of the Senate Torture Report detailing some of the barbarity and brutality of the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation and detention program. Today, along with dozens of other groups, we submit this letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, asking that she open an expanded and comprehensive investigation into the post-9/11 detention and interrogation program in order to bring to justice those suspected of crimes under international law as well as US federal law.
December 9, 2016
The Honorable Loretta Lynch Attorney General
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530
RE: Open a Comprehensive Investigation into the U.S. Torture Program
Dear Attorney General Lynch:
Today marks two years since the public release of the Executive Summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program (“SSCI Report Summary”). The Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation, along with investigations by the Senate Armed Services Committee and U.S. government agencies, documented the multiple ways in which U.S. officials committed torture and other forms of ill-treatment. Indeed, President Obama explicitly acknowledged that U.S. officials tortured detainees under their control.
Under your predecessors, the Justice Department’s circumscribed reviews and investigations into the U.S. post-9/11 interrogation and detention program all closed without a single charge filed against anyone. The SSCI Report Summary contains significant new information about the C.I.A. interrogation and detention program, and yet no criminal investigation was opened after its release.
We urge you to use this opportunity to open an expanded and comprehensive investigation into the post-9/11 detention and interrogation program in order to bring to justice those suspected of crimes under international law as well as US federal law (i.e., 18 U.S.C. § 2340, 18 U.S.C. § 2441). This investigation must be permitted to follow the evidence wherever it leads. We note that in the absence of independent, credible investigations into torture and other serious violations of international law by U.S. officials in the United States, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court recently reported that it will move to open an investigation into torture and other war crimes committed in Afghanistan and on the territory of other ICC States Parties “imminently.”1 We recall that, operating under the principle of complementarity, the International Criminal Court will not pursue cases where the relevant domestic state is willing and able to prosecute perpetrators effectively. Moreover, we urge you to direct the declassification and disclosure of information about the Justice Department’s reviews and investigations to date.
Lack of accountability contributes to the risk that torture will recur. It is critically important that the Justice Department make clear that torture and enforced disappearance will always be treated as serious crimes, and that perpetrators of these acts will always be brought to justice, regardless of position.
Thank you for your time and consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss this request through Katherine Gallagher (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Appeal for Justice
Center for Constitutional Rights
Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic
Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, Community Lawyering Clinic
European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights
Global Justice Clinic, NYU School of Law
Human Rights in Practice
International Human Rights Clinic, Duke University School of Law
International Human Rights Clinic, University of Chicago Law School
International Human Rights Clinic, Western New England University School of Law
NC Stop Torture Now
New York University Center for Health and Human Rights
No More Guantanamos
The Quaker Initiative to End Torture - QUIT!
The Redress Trust (REDRESS)
The Rendition Project Reprieve
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
Santa Clara University, International Human Rights Clinic
UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas
Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights, University of Cincinnati College of Law
USC Gould International Human Rights Clinic
Win Without War
Witness Against Torture
1 “Office of the Prosecutor: Report on Preliminary Examination Activities (2016),” Nov. 14, 2016, p. 51, available at https://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/otp/161114-otp-rep-PE_ENG.pdf.