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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AG Holder Says “Torture Memos” Report to be Released This Month

After thousands signed petitions from Alliance for Justice and CREDO Action, and many made personal calls to the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder said today that the report on the “torture memos” will be released by the end of this month.

“I think this is a matter of great public interest, the whole question of the OPR report,” Holder said. “The report is completed. It is being reviewed now and it is in its last stages, there is a career prosecutor who has to review the report. We expect that that process should be done by the end of the month and at that point the report should be issued.”

Holder was asked about the status of the report by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) at an oversight hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning. A video of his statement is available on Talking Points Memo.

More than 10,000 people have signed petitions by AFJ and Credo Action calling for release of the report on the “torture memos.” Last week’s phone calls to the Attorney General asked him to expand his investigation to all responsible for U.S. torture, including the lawyers who authored the infamous “torture memos.”

“Releasing the OPR report is the first step towards accountability for those who authorized torture. We are pleased the Attorney General is bringing these facts to light,” said Nan Aron, President, Alliance for Justice.

In Holder’s first oversight hearing in June, he was asked when the report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) on the conduct of the lawyers who authorized torture would be released. He said that the five-year investigation of the "torture memos" was close to an end and that OPR's report would be ready in a "matter of weeks." When asked again on October 8, Holder said the report was still waiting for comments from some of the lawyers involved.

The legal cover for torture was contained in a series of memos drafted by lawyers in the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, beginning in 2002. The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) began an inquiry in 2004 into the conduct of the DOJ lawyers. In January 2009, at the end of the Bush administration, news leaked that the report on this inquiry had been drafted, but it still has not been released.