News Release

Torture, State Secrets and Spanish Prosecution

In his news conference last night, Obama seemed to claim that the detention center at Guantanamo Bay was closed: “We have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.”

Berrigan is an organizer with Witness Against Torture, which is protesting outside the White House today. She recently co-wrote the piece “Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied: Accountability, Torture, and the Obama Administration,” which states: “Despite early, encouraging signs, the Obama presidency has been a disappointment with respect to detainee issues and torture. While releasing so-called ‘torture memos’ drafted under the Bush administration, the Obama administration has been reluctant to investigate possible, past crimes by those who may have committed or provided pseudo-legal cover for torture. Without such an investigation (and prosecutions, if warranted) Obama’s pledge to bring accountability to government will ring hollow. Neither can Obama fulfill his pledge to restore the rule of law if he won’t enforce the law. Domestic and international law indeed require that the U.S. legal system investigate possible breaches of bans on torture.

“Less acknowledged, but equally disturbing, the Obama administration has left untouched — and even actively affirmed — some of the worst of the Bush-era detention policies. The pledge to shut down Guantanamo has done nothing to relieve the ordeal of the men still held there, many of whom are innocent of allegations of terrorism and have been cleared for release. … The denial of the rule of law and the abuse of detainees continues at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.”

In his news conference last night, Obama claimed regarding state secret cases: “we don’t have the time to effectively think through” the issue. Senior managing attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, Kadidal said today: “The Obama administration had the opportunity in Jeppesen to ask for more time to reconsider its position, and chose not to.

“[Obama] is right that the doctrine as it was articulated by the last administration is too broad, but he’s wrong to suggest that legislation is needed to enable the type of solutions he suggests, or that there may be some cases that are simply not litigable because of secrecy. Remember that the privilege is ultimately about whether a judge gets to see information the president says is too sensitive even for a judge’s eyes. Judges should always be able to examine evidence themselves.

“Most legislative proposals, from the original rejected rule of evidence (Rule 509) to the recent Democratic bills, have conceded too much to the executive — as is Congress’ wont.”

AP reports: “Spain’s top investigative magistrate has opened an investigation into the Bush administration over alleged torture of terror suspects at the Guantanamo prison.” The Center for Constitutional Rights recently released a statement titled: “CCR Applauds Spanish Judge’s Decision to Open New Criminal Investigation into U.S. Torture Program: Human Rights Group with Multiple Cases Against Bush Officials Calls on Obama Administration to Appoint Special Prosecutor in U.S.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020 or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167