[JURIST] Ten victims of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] extraordinary rendition program [JURIST news archive] have signed an open letter [text, PDF] to US President Barack Obama [official website] urging him to declassify the upcoming Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the program. The letter, which was coordinated by international human rights charity Reprieve [advocacy website] reads, in part:
Despite living thousands of miles apart and leading different lives today, a shared experience unites us: the CIA abducted each of us in the past and flew us to secret prisons for torture. Some of us were kidnapped with out pregnant wives or children. All of us were later released without charge, redress or apology from the US. We now want the American public to read that story, in full, and without redactions.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SCCI) has produced the most extensive report on the CIA’s program to date. However, the publication of the report has been delayed because of disputes between Senators and the CIA over the extent of the redactions from the public version. The report is believed to be on the desk of the White House. During a speech on August 1, Obama stated that after September 11, the US government had “tortured some folks.” However, individual victims of CIA rendition have not been identified. “‘We tortured some folks’ is the beginning, not the end, of justice,” said [press release] Reprieve’s Strategic Director and attorney for rendition victims Cori Crider. “The ‘folks’ are having their say in this letter—surely the very least we owe them is to print their names in black and white. Repreive’s clients include people rendered as children, or pregnant women; the American people ought to know this and confront it, so we never walk down this dark road again.”
Controversy continues to surround CIA programs, which allegedly involved torture against detainees. In July the European Court of Human Rights [official website] handed down two rulings [JURIST report] finding the Polish government in violation of European human rights laws based on the establishment of prison center linked to CIA’s extraordinary rendition program in Poland. Last October the lawyer for five Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] prisoners charged with plotting the 9/11 attacks asked [JURIST report] Obama in an open letter to declassify the CIA interrogation program that allegedly subjected prisoners to torture. The letter argued that the continued classification of this program is suppressing important evidence related to the case. In 2009 the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] released [JURIST report] four top secret memos from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) [official website] outlining controversial CIA interrogation techniques and their legal rationale. The previously undisclosed memos were released with redactions in response to the FOIA lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) during the Bush administration. The ACLU also called for an independent investigator to probe allegations of torture during the Bush administration, but 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.”