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NLG Calls For Special Bush Torture Investigation

National Lawyers Guild Calls For Appointment Of Special Independent Counsel To Investigate Bush Policies That Amount To Torture

In February 2005, the Justice Department issued a secret opinion endorsing the harshest interrogation techniques the CIA has ever used, according to an October 4, 2007 report in the New York Times.

The National Lawyers Guild calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques, including simulated drowning known as water boarding, exposing detainees to frigid temperatures, and head-slapping.

While the Bush administration on Friday asserted that it did not approve torture techniques, and refused to make public classified Justice Department legal opinions, the New York Times reported that two secret Justice Department opinions in 2005 explicitly permitted the use of painful physical and psychological techniques.

The authorized techniques amount to torture, and are unlawful in all circumstances, even in time of war. The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment provides: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

The Torture Convention is a treaty ratified by the United States and therefore part of U.S. law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

Torture is a war crime. Those who commit or order torture can be convicted under the U.S. War Crimes Statute.

Techniques that don't rise to the level of torture but constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment also violate U.S. law. Congress should provide for the appointment of a special independent counsel to fully investigate and prosecute all who are complicit in the torture and mistreatment of prisoners in U.S. custody.

Founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association which did not admit people of color, the National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.


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