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Monday, August 24, 2009

Piecemeal Prosecution Only One Piece of the Torture Puzzle

Two weeks ago we asked about the release of the Office of Professional Responsibility’s (OPR) report on the torture memos. Again. Many hoped that the report would be released today in tandem with the CIA inspector general’s report, but, alas, Attorney General Holder’s statement indicated that it might be some time before we see the OPR report. The absence of this report, then, keeps the focus on the actions of low-level operatives detailed by the IG report (released today by court order), rather than looking up the chain of command to people like lawyers Jay Bybee, John Yoo, and Steven Bradbury who designed the legal framework for the torture regime.

While Mr. Holder did announce the appointment of a special prosecutor today, the scope of the prosecutor’s mandate and discretion is much too narrow. As Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron observed:
We need a full-scale investigation presided over by a special prosecutor
who can operate without artificial constraints and who has the discretion to
follow the facts where the evidence leads, including up the chain of
command. No blinders should be put on a special prosecutor, and no
artificial barrier constructed to shield certain perpetrators from evidence of a

Any investigation must reject blame-shifting and include
the high-level officials who sanctioned and attempted to justify
torture, not just the individuals who carried it out. We cannot
tolerate another investigation that ignores the lawbreaking of senior
government officials without addressing the systemic problems that
led our country astray in the first place.
Call on A.G. Holder to Launch a Full-Scale Investigation of the "Torture Memos.”

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