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The Letter That Was Sent to Mukasey and Should Be Sent to Holder
June 6, 2008
Hon. Michael Mukasey
Attorney General of the United States
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
We are writing to request that you appoint a special counsel to investigate whether the Bush Administration's policies regarding the interrogation of detainees have violated federal criminal laws. There is mounting evidence that the Bush Administration has sanctioned enhanced interrogation techniques against detainees under the control of the United States that warrant an investigation.
Congress is already aware of a pattern of abuse against detainees under the control of the United States and the Bush Administration. In 2004, prisoners being held at Abu Ghraib prison were subjected to abuse, sexual exploitation and torture. At the Guantanamo Bay Detention facility, prisoners have been held indefinitely, subjected to sleep deprivation, and drugged against their will. An independent investigation by the International Committee of the Red Cross documented several instances of acts of torture against detainees, including soaking a prisoner's hand in alcohol and lighting it on fire, subjecting a prisoner to sexual abuse, and forcing a prisoner to eat a baseball. In October 2005, the New York Times reported that three detainees were killed during interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq by CIA agents or CIA contractors.
We believe that these events alone warrant action, but within the last month additional information has surfaced that suggests the fact that not only did top Administration officials meet in the White House and approve the use of enhanced techniques including waterboarding against detainees, but that President Bush was aware of, and approved of the meetings taking place. This information indicates that the Bush Administration may have systematically implemented, from the top down, detainee interrogation policies that constitute torture or otherwise violate the law. We believe that these serious and significant revelations warrant an immediate investigation to determine whether actions taken by the President, his Cabinet, and other Administration officials are in violation of the War Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. 2441), the Anti-Torture Act, (18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A), and other U.S. and international laws.
Despite the seriousness of the evidence, the Justice Department has brought prosecution against only one civilian for an interrogation-related crime. Given that record, we believe that it is necessary to appoint a special counsel in order to ensure that a thorough and impartial investigation occurs, and that the prosecution of anyone who violated federal criminal statutes prohibiting torture and abuse is pursued if warranted by the facts.
Again, we strongly urge that you act in a timely manner to appoint a special counsel. We look forward to hearing from you in response to our request.
Sheila Jackson Lee
Eleanor Holmes Norton