Rights groups want special prosecutor to investigate torture

The Wisconsin Gazette

The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch on Dec. 22 asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the crimes detailed in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s torture program.

The organizations point to information detailed in the report that they say leaves no doubt that crimes were committed as part of the government’s rendition, detention and interrogation program and that the United States is obligated by both domestic and international law to prosecute such crimes.

“Even though our organizations have dedicated tens of thousands of staff hours to researching, litigating, and advocating on concerns related to torture and other ill-treatment in the RDI program, the depravity of the tactics and immensity of the enterprise still astound us,” the letter to Holder stated. “There is no need to repeat the details in this letter to you, but we believe it is fair to say that 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 was sent to Holder the same day that The New York Times editorial board called for a full and independent criminal investigation.

Others seeking a criminal investigation include:

• Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture.

• Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism.

• Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

• The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 

Harold Koh, a former legal advisor to the U.S. Department of State said there is “more than enough to reopen investigations at the Justice Department to see whether prosecutions are warranted.”