Once-Secret Memos Document How White House Endorsed CIA Waterboarding and Torture


October 15, 2008 – The White House issued two secret memos endorsing the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other forms of torture on detainees, according to a news report published today in the Washington Post. The memos, which show that senior Bush administration officials expressly endorsed the CIA’s abusive practices, should have been turned over in response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking information on the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody overseas.

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

“This new report supplies further evidence that the decision to endorse torture was made by the administration’s most senior officials. The report also underscores once again how much information is still being withheld by this administration. The government is not permitted to withhold records in order to shield officials from embarrassment or to conceal evidence of illegal activity, but this administration continues to use the classification power to suppress information for precisely those ends.”

To date, more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to the VCS/ACLU lawsuit. They are available online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia
Many of these documents are also compiled and analyzed in “Administration of Torture,” a book by Jaffer and ACLU staff attorney Amrit Singh. More information is available online at: www.aclu.org/administrationoftorture

In addition to Jaffer and Singh, attorneys on the case are Alexa Kolbi-Molinas and Judy Rabinovitz of the national ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Lawrence S. Lustberg and Jennifer B. Condon of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons P.C.; and Shayana Kadidal and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

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