ACLU hits Obama administration hard over torture controversies

“The Obama administration has now fully embraced the Bush administration’s shameful effort to immunize torturers and their enablers from any legal consequences for their actions,” said Ben Wizner, an ACLU lawyer representing the five men, in a press release. “The CIA’s rendition and torture program is not a ‘state secret;’ it’s an international scandal. If the Obama administration has its way, no torture victim will ever have his day in court, and future administrations will be free to pursue torture policies without any fear of liability.”

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The American Civil Liberties Union had strong words on Friday for the Obama administration’s efforts to block the release of torture photos and its attempts to end a lawsuit over extraordinary rendition.

The ACLU criticized the White House’s deal with Congress, struck on Thursday, which eliminated a provision in a military financing bill that would have blocked the release of torture photos – but only after President Barack Obama promised to “use every legal and administrative remedy” available to keep the photos from the public.

“Keeping the photos secret while letting the high level perpetrators off the hook cannot be tolerated if we are to get an America we can be proud of again,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU. “This information is necessary to create an accurate historical record and to force an increasingly recalcitrant Justice Department to undertake a criminal investigation of those who authorized and implemented the Bush administration’s torture program.”

On Thursday the Obama administration won a reprieve from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled the White House could keep the photos under wraps, at least temporarily, until a Supreme Court review.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department asked a federal appeals court on Friday to block a lawsuit brought by five victims of the U.S. government’s extraordinary rendition program. Five men, who claim they were kidnapped and tortured for information, are suing Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan over its role in transferring them to overseas facilities.

“The Obama administration has now fully embraced the Bush administration’s shameful effort to immunize torturers and their enablers from any legal consequences for their actions,” said Ben Wizner, an ACLU lawyer representing the five men, in a press release. “The CIA’s rendition and torture program is not a ‘state secret;’ it’s an international scandal. If the Obama administration has its way, no torture victim will ever have his day in court, and future administrations will be free to pursue torture policies without any fear of liability.”

The lawsuit stirred controversy on both sides of the Atlanic Ocean last month, when the Obama administration threatened to cut Britain off from sensitive information if the U.K. government released information regarding Binyam Mohamed, a resident of Britain and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Some commentators have speculated that the Obama administration’s reluctance to allow the suit to go forward may be the result of Boeing’s influence in Washington.

The full text of the ACLU’s press release on the rendition trial can be found here.

By Daniel Tencer
Published: June 12, 2009

Source: The Raw Story

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