28 March 2012
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For more than five years, the ACLU and other advocacy organizations have been seeking the release of Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos that supplied the basis for the Bush administration's interrogation, detention, rendition, and warrantless surveillance policies. The OLC, which is a component of the Justice Department, was created to provide objective legal advice to the Attorney General and to resolve legal disputes among federal agencies. During the Bush administration, however, the OLC became a facilitator for illegal government conduct, issuing dozens of memos meant to permit gross violations of domestic and international law. Some of these memos have become public through leaks to the media and through the ACLU's litigation under the Freedom of Information Act....
"In response to an ACLU lawsuit, the Justice Department just released four memos that provided the basis for the Bush administration's illegal torture program. (texts published here: http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/olc_memos.html )
But exposing the truth is only the first step. It’s now imperative that the Justice Department investigate issues of criminal responsibility for the crimes that took place in the CIA’s secret prisons.
The torture memos should never have been written - the actions they justified violated domestic and international law and damaged America’s reputation in the world. They authorized interrogators to use the most barbaric interrogation methods, including methods that the U.S. once prosecuted as war crimes. It’s now the Justice Department’s responsibility to make sure that the architects of the torture program are held accountable. Senior officials who authorized torture should not be shielded from investigation.
We are hopeful that by releasing these memos, the Obama administration has begun to turn the page on an era in which the Justice Department became complicit in some of the most egregious crimes."
(..) The Obama administration should release the still-secret memos. As the ACLU wrote in a January 28, 2009 letter to the OLC, the release of the memos would allow the public to better understand the legal basis for the Bush administration's national security policies; to better understand the role that the OLC played in developing, justifying, and advocating those policies; and to participate more meaningfully in the ongoing debate about national security, civil liberties, and human rights.
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