December 11, 2008, New York – In response to the release today by the Senate Armed Services Committee of a bi-partisan report almost two years in the making on the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) President Michael Ratner, author with CCR of The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld (The New Press, 2008), issued the following statement:
The Committee’s report reaffirms that high-ranking administration officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, were directly responsible for the abuse and torture of detainees in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan. The brutal interrogation techniques used on our clients and many others were carried out despite well-documented opposition from military lawyers and others concerned by the illegality and ineffectiveness of the techniques.
After reviewing thousands of documents, this bi-partisan committee confirmed that senior officials are directly responsible for ushering in one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history and the loss of our moral authority in the eyes of the world.
There is no question that Rumsfeld and the others must be held accountable, and it must be before a court of law. There must be consequences for their illegal activities. A special prosecutor should be appointed. To do otherwise is to send a message of impunity that will only embolden future administrations to again engage in serious violations of the law.
The report is highly critical of the information obtained through these techniques, noting they were based on Chinese Communist methods employed to obtain false confessions. Professional interrogators agree that the fastest way to get the best information from a prisoner is through building trust and rapport, not torture. The recognition of the illegality and unreliability of this kind of evidence is critical in the cases of some of our clients, like Mohammed al Qahtani.
We hope the courts and the next administration take notice and take action.
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last six years – sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with a former CIA “ghost detainee.” CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country in order to represent the men at Guantánamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. CCR represented the detainees with co-counsel in the most recent argument before the Supreme Court and is actively working to resettle Guantánamo’s refugees.