The American Civil Liberties Union , the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights , Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for Peace will go to federal court today to force the Bush administration to comply with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA ) requests made in October 2003 and May 2004. The request were sent to the CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Justice Department, and the State Department asking the agencies for:
[R]ecords of the abuse or torture of detainees in US custody and any records of investigations into those deaths.
The FOIA also requested all records regarding policies that govern the interrogation of detainees in US custody and the sending of detainees to other countries known to use torture, a process known as “rendition”.
In addition, the groups requested records describing any measures taken by the administration to address concerns expressed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Parties to the suit had this to say:
“The government has continued to stonewall our efforts to get these documents,” said Amrit Singh, staff attorney at the ACLU. “The government has continued to say it will process these in its own time but it has been over 10 months so we have been forced to go to court,” she added in an interview.
“You [Bush] have stated in eloquent terms that human dignity is non-negotiable, but you have tolerated a US system of interrogation that is specifically designed to degrade, humiliate and destroy the human dignity of prisoners to obtain information,” the heads of nine major US human rights groups, including Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, as well as PHR, said in a May 7 letter.
“[Now] there are suggestions in news reports that high-level government officials may have condoned what went on,” said Singh, stressing the importance of getting government documents relevant to the abuse allegations as quickly as possible. Government memos that appear to be designed to justify the use of torture have come to light in recent months, flaming the controversy over the abuses.