Monday, May 4, 2015

Anti-Torture Campaign: Day Six

The Honorable Loretta Lynch
Attorney General of the United States
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Subject: Reading the Senate Torture Report

Dear Attorney General Lynch:

The America we believe in does not torture. Yet for years, those who ordered and committed torture, enforced disappearance and other human rights violations in the CIA’s secret detention program have enjoyed impunity. That makes a mockery of the U.S. justice system.

Recently, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released to the public a summary of its 6,700 page report on these matters, known as the “Senate torture report.” It contains information about potential violations of federal and international law.

But shockingly, the Justice Department has failed to commit to reading and reviewing the full report. In litigation the Justice Department has even said that its copies of the full report remain unread, in a sealed envelope.1 Presumably, no one at the Justice Department has even begun to read the full report—let alone take any action on any information it contains on human rights violations, including the crimes under international law of torture and enforced disappearance.

That’s why, along with this letter, we are sending you a page, during each of the next ten days, for a total of 10 different pages of the de-classified report summary.

Reading the report is just one step. The Department of Justice must also re-open and expand its investigations into all CIA interrogations, detentions and renditions. It must bring to justice in fair trials all the persons, regardless of their level of office or former level of office, suspected of being involved in the commission of crimes under international law, such as torture and enforced disappearance.


 Tsultrim Dolma, Member of  AI Group-128, Amherst MA 

1  See Declaration of Peter J. Kadzik, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legislative Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice, ACLU v. CIA, Case 1:13--cv--01870 (filed January 21, 2015, D.D.C.).  We are concerned that the Justice Department and other agencies are not opening the full report due to a cynical and hyper-technical effort to circumvent U.S. open records law (the Freedom of Information Act) and prevent the release of the full report to the public.

From Page 44 of the report:

Operations Handbook from October 2001 states that the CIA does not engage in "human rights violations," which it defined as: "Torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment, or prolonged detention without charges or trial." The handbook further stated that "[i]t is CIA policy to neither participate directly in nor encourage interrogation which involves the use of force, mental or physical torture, extremely demeaning indignities or exposure to inhumane treatment of any kind as an aid to interrogation."

From Page 166:

On September 17, 2001, the President signed a covert action Memorandum of Notification
(MON) granting the CIA unprecedented counterterrorism authorities, including the authority to covertly capture and detain individuals "posing a continuing, serious threat of violence or death to U.S. persons and interests or planning terrorist activities." The MON made no reference to interrogations or coercive interrogation techniques.

The CIA was not prepared to take custody of its first detainee. In the fall of 2001, the CIA explored the possibility of establishing clandestine detention facilities in several countries. The CIA's review identified risks associated with clandestine detention that led it to conclude that U.S. military bases were the best option for the CIA to detain individuals under the MON authorities.

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