Justice Department Wrong To Let Torture Lawyers Off The Hook, Says ACLU

April 14, 2011 2:00 pm

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Extensive Evidence Exists To Hold Yoo And Bybee Accountable For Their Role In Torture

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today condemned a statement by the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicating that it will not prosecute two lawyers who helped develop the Bush-era torture program. In a letter to Spanish Judge Eloy Velasco Nuñez dated March 1 but made public yesterday, the DOJ stated that it would not prosecute Jay Bybee and John Yoo, former DOJ lawyers who authored memos that provided the legal basis for the torture program, because an earlier investigation by Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis concluded that Bybee and Yoo exercised poor judgment but did not violate ethical norms. Margolis was not a criminal investigator, however, and he did not have the mandate to examine issues of criminal responsibility.

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:

“The Justice Department’s contention that ‘there exists no basis’ for the prosecution of Bush administration lawyers who authorized torture is simply indefensible. These lawyers wrote memos to green-light interrogation methods that the United States has always considered to be illegal, and prisoners were tortured in U.S. custody as a result. They should have provided bona fide legal advice, but instead they served as knowing facilitators of criminal conduct. The Justice Department says that there are ongoing investigations into the abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody, but if these investigations focus on ‘rogue interrogators,’ they are too narrow. The core problem was not one of rogue interrogators but one of senior government officials who knowingly authorized the gravest crimes.”

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