Yesterday, as part of its “Accountability for Torture” project (to which I contributed here), the ACLU launched a new campaigning video, “Tortured Logic,” in which ten people (including Oliver Stone, Philip Glass and a relative of one of the 9/11 victims) read out passages from the notorious torture memos, issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which were released by the Obama administration in May.
The purpose of the video, as ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero explained on the Huffington Post, is not only to raise awareness of the illegal techniques that were cynically endorsed by the OLC’s lawyers (the very lawyers charged with interpreting the law as it applies to the Executive), but also to encourage Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration’s crimes.
As Romero wrote:
Recent reports that US Attorney General Eric Holder is considering appointing a prosecutor to investigate illegal torture carried out during the Bush administration is a positive sign, especially given President Obama’s desire to avoid what he has called “a backward-looking” inquiry. When Holder began studying the brutal acts carried out in America’s name, some of them even exceeding the horrors authorized in the infamous Justice Department torture memos, he reportedly said it “turned my stomach.”
Romero also noted that it was “deeply troubling” that reports have also emerged suggesting that any investigation “would focus only on low-level interrogators and contract employees,” and explained why the appointment of a independent prosecutor — put in place without limits on the scope of his or her investigations — remains of paramount importance:
There is ample evidence already in the public domain that the widespread and systemic torture of detainees was authorized at the highest levels of the Bush administration. This evidence comes from congressional reports, the torture memos themselves and even the boastful admissions of officials including former vice president Dick Cheney, who has been aggressively forthright in his defense of waterboarding. But notwithstanding all this evidence, there are still those who would reduce the authorization of these crimes by government officials to discretionary policy decisions. This cannot be the case in a nation where the rule of law means anything.
The video is available below (via YouTube), but please visit the ACLU’s “Tortured Logic” page for information about how, with just a few clicks of the mouse, you can share it with friends and, most importantly, send a message to the Attorney General asking him to do the right thing, and to begin the essential process of reclaiming America’s moral stature in the world, to ensure that no one, least of all the occupants of the White House, is above the law.
Remember, if Eric Holder fails to act, it will send a clear message that the President, the Vice President and their closest advisors can break the law with impunity — and shape America into a nation that tortures — so long as they’re voted out of office at the end.
August 04, 2009
ACLU video features prominent figures like Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone and a 9/11 family member reading from one of the infamous Bush administration legal memos used to justify the use of torture against detainees in U.S. custody. The video calls for accountability and the restoration of the rule of law.
The video includes appearances by Oliver Stone, 9/11 family member Patricia Perry, actors Rosie Perez, Noah Emmerich, John Doman and Reg E. Cathey, and musical composer Philip Glass, among others, reading directly from a memo authored by Jay Bybee, former head of the Justice Departments Office of Legal Counsel under the Bush administration. The memo was released in April as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009. Visit his website at: www.andyworthington.co.uk.