[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Thursday released four top secret memos [press release] from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) [official website] outlining controversial CIA interrogation techniques and their legal rationale. The previously undisclosed memos [text, PDF; text, PDF; text, PDF; text, PDF] were released with redactions in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text] lawsuit [materials] filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] during the Bush administration. The ACLU has also called for an independent investigator [press release] to probe allegations of torture during the Bush administration, but President Barack Obama said [statement] that, "[i]n releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution." Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile; JURIST news archive] said "[t]he President has halted the use of the interrogation techniques described in these opinions, and this administration has made clear from day one that it will not condone torture." Former CIA director Michael Hayden criticized [AP report] the Obama administration's decision to release the memos, calling it a threat to national security.
Last week, US House Judiciary Committee [official website] Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) [official website] released a final version of a report [text; PDF; JURIST report] reiterating his allegations that the Bush administration engaged in numerous abuses during the "war on terror" and calling on Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to determine whether any criminal laws were violated. Human rights groups have also called for the prosecution [AI report] of senior Bush administration officials for their use of enhanced interrogation techniques. Such calls gained traction in late December, when the Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] alleged [report] that top Bush officials, including former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld [JURIST news archive], "bore major responsibility" for the abuses committed by US interrogators in military detention centers.