ACLU Urges Senate Judiciary to Subpoena Interrogation Documents

September 18, 2008 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

Torture memos have been kept in the dark for too long

Contact: (202) 675-2312, or
(212) 549-2666,

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union calls on the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote to authorize a subpoena for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to produce the legal opinions that approved harsh interrogations of detainees held by the United States. The committee has repeatedly requested these documents and has seen very little cooperation from DOJ. The Justice Department has provided some heavily redacted documents, which Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-PA) have called inadequate. If authorized, the subpoena would legally require DOJ to comply with the committee’s request.

“The Department of Justice has been stonewalling Congress for far too long – the time for a subpoena is now,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The level of secrecy and noncompliance this administration has exhibited further underscores the lack of legal rationale for conducting torture in America’s name. President Bush and the Justice Department knew then, as they know now, that torture is clearly illegal under federal criminal law. Only through full disclosure can we begin to wipe away this stain on America’s image.”

In October 2003, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records concerning the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody abroad. While more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to the ACLU’s FOIA lawsuit, the government continues to withhold many vital records and litigation is ongoing.

“The Justice Department has repeatedly twisted or ignored the law in order to justify the use of brutal interrogation techniques the U.S. once prosecuted as war crimes,” said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU National Security Project. “This administration continues to use ‘national security’ as a pretext to shield government officials from embarrassment, criticism and even criminal prosecution. Far too much information is being withheld and the public has a right to the documents still being concealed.”

The documents received in the ACLU’s FOIA litigation are online at:

The ACLU has led the charge in calling for an independent prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any violations of federal criminal laws related to the interrogation of detainees, including any obstruction of justice. To view the ACLU letter to Congress, go to:

# # #

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.

The Latest in National Security

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.

Learn More About National Security

National Security issue image

The ACLU’s National Security Project is dedicated to ensuring that U.S. national security policies and practices are consistent with the Constitution, civil liberties, and human rights.