Special prosecutor for CIA interrogations urged

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] on Tuesday called on US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile; JURIST news archive] to commission a special prosecutor [letter, PDF; press release] to investigate tactics used by CIA interrogators against terrorism suspects. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a letter to Holder that recently published characterizations [NYRB op-ed; JURIST report] of CIA methods as torture by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website], combined with other evidence, obligated the attorney general to investigate the allegations. Romero said that those suspected in engaging in or facilitating torture should then be prosecuted under the War Crimes Act [18 USC § 2441 text] and the Anti-Torture Act [18 USC § 2340 text], and that the statute of limitations for some of the alleged offenses would expire in less than a year:

There Is Broad Authority to Investigate and Prosecute Torture Crimes, Including Any Crimes in Ordering or Authorizing Torture: Based on prior government investigations, documents obtained by the ACLU through our FOIA litigation, and numerous media reports, there is credible evidence that acts authorized, ordered, and committed by government officials constitute violations of federal criminal statutes. Although the political debate about whether acts such as waterboarding are torture has caused confusion in some press accounts, waterboarding and other forms of torture and abuse clearly violate existing federal criminal laws, including the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2441, the Anti-Torture Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2340-2340A, and federal statutes that criminalize conduct such as assaults by or against U.S. nationals in overseas facilities used by the federal government. There also are numerous federal criminal laws against obstructing or interfering with government investigations or court proceedings. [emphasis omitted]
Romero went on to say that current efforts [JURIST report] to investigate the interrogations were too weak to hold offenders accountable, and that only a special prosecutor sanctioned by the attorney general could effectively investigate the allegations.

Earlier this month, the CIA admitted to destroying 92 tapes of interrogations of the "high-value" detainees, later admitting that 12 of the destroyed tapes [JURIST reports] included evidence of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" (EIT). Rights groups and experts on torture have long criticized [JURIST news archive] the US for its use of EIT, and US President Barack Obama in January issued an executive order [text; JURIST report] explicitly banning the use of waterboarding and other techniques that do no comport with Geneva Convention safeguards for prisoners of war.


 

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