August 24, 2009, New York, NY – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the statement below in response to the rumored announcement of the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the torture of detainees by the U.S. Press reports say Attorney General Holder likely to name John Durham, who is currently investigating the 2005 destruction of videotapes of CIA interrogations that included waterboarding and other methods of torture and abuse.
“Responsibility for the torture program cannot be laid at the feet of a few low-level operatives. Some agents in the field may have gone further than the limits so ghoulishly laid out by the lawyers who twisted the law to create legal cover for the program, but it is the lawyers and the officials who oversaw and approved the program who must be investigated.
“The Attorney General must appoint an independent special prosecutor with a full mandate to investigate those responsible for torture and war crimes, especially the high ranking officials who designed, justified and orchestrated the torture program. We call on the Obama administration not to tie a prosecutor’s hands but to let the investigation go as far up the chain of command as the facts lead. We must send a clear message to the rest of the world, to future officials, and to the victims of torture that justice will be served and that the rule of law has been restored.”
Available for comment: CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren, CCR Legal Director Bill Quigley, and the Senior Managing Attorney of CCR’s Guantánamo Project, Shayana Kadidal.
Earlier press accounts suggest the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility report on the role of lawyers in the torture program called for new investigations into cases of the torture and death of detainees previously not taken up by the DOJ. The latest news is that the OPR report is still being reviewed for classification and will not come out today, but the release of a less redacted version of the 2004 report by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on the treatment of men held in its secret detention and interrogation program is still expected to be released today, as ordered by a federal judge.
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last seven 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 represents current and former detainees who were tortured and abused at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and in the secret CIA detention program.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.