It’s been six months since the Senate Intelligence Committee released its damning investigation into CIA torture, and still, no perpetrator has yet to be charged with a crime.
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On Tuesday, a coalition of leading human rights groups and more than 110,000 people sent a letter calling on U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to launch a truly independent investigation to ensure that there is a measure of justice and accountability for the “horrific” acts done at the hands of the U.S. government.
The letter argues that the previous investigation into the CIA’s use of waterboarding, launched in 2009 by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham, was insufficient on many counts and has failed to bring about any conviction.
“Many of these crimes would be horrific even if committed by an individual acting alone; but when done as part of a deliberate, coordinated government program, the crimes are more shocking and far more corrosive to U.S. democracy.”
Now, in light of the “significant new information” presented in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee (SSCI) report, the letter calls on Lynch “to appoint a career prosecutor as a special prosecutor to review it, along with the files from the Durham investigation, to ensure that there is a comprehensive criminal investigation into the conduct documented by the Senate torture report, as well as the authorization for that conduct.”
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“The depravity of the tactics and immensity of the enterprise still astound us,” states the letter, penned by the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. “Many of these crimes would be horrific even if committed by an individual acting alone; but when done as part of a deliberate, coordinated government program, the crimes are more shocking and far more corrosive to U.S. democracy.”
The letter argues that by failing to investigate and prosecute government torture, the Obama administration is sending the message that torture remains a U.S. valid policy.
“The Senate report contains disturbing and previously unknown details about torture, and yet the Justice Department is keeping it unread and unopened. It is effectively handing out a ‘get out of jail free’ card to all those responsible for torture.” —Steven Hawkins, Amnesty International USA
“The Justice Department – and the Obama administration – are effectively burying the Senate torture report,” said Amnesty International USA executive director Steven Hawkins, in a press statement. “The Senate report contains disturbing and previously unknown details about torture, and yet the Justice Department is keeping it unread and unopened. It is effectively handing out a ‘get out of jail free’ card to all those responsible for torture. The message to every would-be torturer is that they will get away with it because the Justice Department will turn a blind eye.”
Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, added, “We know it happened. The Senate torture report documented it in excruciating detail. It’s up to Attorney General Lynch to uphold the laws of our land and ensure that a criminal investigation of the U.S. torture program is conducted.”
The full text of the letter is included below.