Apr. 18, VCS Press Release: Veterans Demand Independent Prosecutor to Investigate U.S. Government Approval and Use of Torture

Veterans Demand Independent Prosecutor to Investigate U.S. Government Approval and Use of Torture

For Immediate Release: April 18, 2008
Contact: Paul Sullivan paul@veteransforcommonsense.org

Washington, DC – Veterans for Common Sense, a non-profit advocacy organization, today called upon the Justice Department to name an independent prosecutor to investigate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s public admission she personally approved the use of torture, a blatant violation of our Constitution, the War Crimes Act, the Anti-Torture Act, and other laws against harming prisoners of war. 

According to a recent ABC News broadcast, starting in 2002, top aides to President George W. Bush met repeatedly in secret at the White House and approved the brutal and violent torture of enemy prisoners of war, including waterboarding, a form of torture simulating drowning.

“Torture is wrong.  The Administration’s use of torture against anyone anywhere is a slap in the face of millions of our Nation’s veterans who fought and died for our Constitution,” said Paul Sullivan, a Gulf War veteran and Executive Director of VCS.

Those involved in the approval of waterboarding and other torture methods included Rice, Vice President Richard Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet – all have left the Administration except Cheney and Rice.  The President knew about the secret meetings among his aides and the on-going torture of enemy prisoners.  On Friday, April 11, 2008, President Bush told ABC News, “Yes, I’m aware our national security team met on this issue and I approved.”  http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/LawPolitics/Story?id=4635175&page=1

After dozens of shocking pictures depicting illegal torture at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were revealed in 2004, the Administration claimed the brutality was carried out by a few “bad apples” – almost always low-ranking soldiers.  “New facts revealed that high-level government officials approved and ordered torture.  They must be investigated held accountable for their public admissions of egregious war crimes.  Torture is wrong.  The use of torture does not produce reliable information. The use of torture increases the risk our soldiers will be tortured if they are captured.  And the use of torture betrays the Constitution we swore to protect and defend,” Sullivan said.

VCS, a non-partisan non-profit organization with more than 12,000 members, was formed in 2002 by Gulf War veterans.  VCS provides information and advocacy on policies related to veterans’ healthcare, veterans’ disability benefits, national security, and civil liberties.  VCS is a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Veterans for Peace, and the Center for Constitutional Rights demanding the release of torture-related documents from the Administration. http://www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/torturefoia.html

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