Letter from Michael Posner to John Ashcroft re: Request for Investigation and Prosecution of US Officials Who Tortured

<p>Letter from Michael Posner, the Executive Director of Human Rights First to Attorney General John Ashcroft. The letter requests information on the investigation of those who reportedly committed acts of torture to hold them legally responsible for the acts they committed.</p>

Monday, June 14, 2004
Tuesday, December 14, 2004

• Department of Justice EXECUTIVE SECRETARIAT CONTROL SHEET DATE OF DOCUMENT: 06/04/2004 WORKFLOW ID: 601350 DATE RECEIVED: 06/14/2004 DUE DATE: 06/29/2004 FROM: Mr. Michael Posner Executive Director human rights &In The New Name of Lawyers Committee for Human Rights 333 Seventh Avenue 13th Floor New York, NY 10001 . TO: AG . MAIL TYPE: General SUBJECT: Expreseing concern regarding acts of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib, and requesting that the AG act expeditiously to investigate and prosecute those v• -ho have violated U.S. law. kitagAgagNiED ACTION COMPONENT & ACTION REQYESTJED 06/15/2004 Criminal Division For component response. INFO COMPONENT: OAG, ODAG, FBI COMMENTS: -1.1, -Et IU"RWTION CCVTA FILE CODE: }MEV' MCLAAgingj DA:t 11-­ -c13—zaa4 tY 61:519:1XWBCVjg 64-,"V-41Z1 EXECS EC POC: b6 -2 b7C -2 DETAINEES-2126 .1111111, DOJFB1-002752 • • • Coof350 DEPT OF JtISIIct human rights/ Na MI NEW Milt OF LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS The Honorable John Ashcroft Attorney General U.S Department of Justice 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530-0001 June 4, 2004 Dear Attorney General Ashcroft: In recent weeks a number of U.S. military and civilian officials have urged that those responsible for the abuses at Abu Gbriaib sad elsewhere be held legally accountable. We write to ask that you to act expeditiously to investigate and prosecute those who have violated U.S. law. Major General Taguba's report suggests that m addition to U.S. military personnel, at least two civilian contractors may have been involved in acts of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib. Numerous press reports suggest that civilians, including both CIA officials and contractors, may have been involved in ordering, carrying out, or tolerating serious abuses. According to news reports, your Department has received at least three referrals from the CIA's Inspector General involving cases from Abu Gluaib. We are anxious to learn what steps you have taken to in% estipte and hold accountable non-military personnel who may share responsibility for the Abu Ghraib abuses. We are concerned by your recent comment, quoted in the Washington Post that It certainly wouldn't be our intention to disrupt investigations underway by the Department of Defense." This might suggest that in many cases you are waiting for the Defense Department to finish its investigations before you proceed with your own. This would be troubling, especially in light of the Pentagon's very slow pace in investigating previous allegations of homicide and other abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq. We were pleased when you announced on May 21 that your department has opened its first investigation into alleged abuses committed by a civilian contractor in Iraq. 333 Smith Asian la' Mu low Tort N.Y. INSI (212) 1454210 Fay (211) 114S-1191 WasIdsgto• LC. Silks 114f Wpm I.E. IN ViesIligtou. 9.C. 21E! Tel: (92) 511.1112 En: (25t) 543491 vew.EvassilstitfititAti Smiths 'freest Kelm! Four Meese William I. Zabe hastiest Ti. A. kronen lewd el Moen IL totted &wen Rowe IL Irma' tru CAM* Gr^ UPI F kJ• teed frosts Dettotr A. %Way Mufti rapid I. Witty. lirsrt NNW A. 1:slt Seumad Lu, s Neale Inv! O. JIM s 1. Cadet Mir/ km* Art d Nog* OA lib.: A Lemma Rit•i TNI 10-9 Jr Ardor Lan Ls L. er:Ifi A. sort tam I Us: bru Vtalso:.ri $i:.nwi Wes.ar IV CAW FAWN; ¦r. i i Ftse•el (1021.:::2) DOJFBI-002753 PLED. TATE.. 6L 0 ai61,57.4131fit6 4.15:i; DETAINEES-2127 However our recent inquiries with the FBI indicate that the FBI has not yet been involved in this investigation. As you know, civilian contractors to the U.S. military abroad may be subject to prosecution in the United States under several federal statutes, including the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000, 18 U.S.C. §§ 3261, ei seq. (MEJA). That law generally provides for federal jurisdiction over crimes committed abroad by civilians, including third country nationals, "accompanying or employed by" the U.S. military. This law applies to any conduct that constitutes an offense punishable by impnsonment for more than one year if engaged in within the United States. Substantive offenses in the U.S. Code that would be subject to MEJA prosecution include murder, manslaughter, assault, sexual abuse, and the criminal statute prohibiting "deprivation of rights under color of law." Federal law sanctions not just those directly responsible for committing such acts, but all those who assisted, abetted. or ordered such offenses, as well as those who may have helped conceal such crimes. It is crucial for you to advance these investigations expeditiously. As you know well, proper handling of serious and complex crimes becomes more difficult with the passage of time. Military investigations into homicides documented at the U.S. Air Force Base in Bagram, Afghanistan, for example, remain unresolved after seventeen months — a result the military has attributed in part to dispersal of witnesses through troop rotations. After the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, your Department immediately sent more than 900 FBI agents to conduct on-site investigations. In our view the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib also require prompt and aggressive investigation The torture and abuse of security detainees in Iraq and elsewhere represents an enormous setback for the United States' efforts to encourage democracy and human rights in Iraq and around the world. It is now more important than ever for the United States to demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law. We trust that you recognize this urgent need, and will give these cases the priority focus they require. We would be pleased to discuss these matters with you or your representatives in the Department of Justice. We look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, 111CC.11 Michael Posner Executive Director DETAINEES-2128 DOJ F B1-002754 . 111E 01:57 .31000*** istootoolcoalowstoca -COMM. 301FiNAL- ************tdostotorai DATE 1114-25-2204 'at suar-iu4-25 ei :56 614)..7114-2S 01 1 57 MOCE !VOW TROVII SS I CN s- F ILE I.O. -SEA PAGES CURAT 104 STAT ION talrE/TEL 143. .P.B 4.1. STN ND..Com. eevge2 salsa : 21 . OK.a eei b2 -2 -cDT IS arlocapotsot b2 -2 sostoioloposiotal000saiscioiosiamssolosasoloctoraes - "wyw, ONO.V O FBI FACSAHLE COVER SHEET PRECEDENCE .CLASSIFICATION resmodiate . ea.. Tina Tramoutted . . Top Sr CI Priority O Secret . sew** Initials: . Da Routine . Contideutlal. Number of Pager . El Sonsinve. (maid* Cover sheet) (2:1 UndersOlod To. Washington Field Office Dam 06/25/2004 Name of Office Facsimile NT b6 -1 Atm. . b7C -1 Name Roomi'f dirprioso From: Criminal Intelligence Section Name a( Office sejant. . Spacial Hercillog instructions. . Origusatet Name Laura Laughlin Telephone. I b2 -1 Originator! Faczioute Number' b2 -2 Approved: wlg . Brief Demobs! cd Communication Faxed' . DOJFBI-002755 .ALL 7:71.T b7). C.C-XT A: LIED CLAE:SI E1.7.' WA MD intbrmatzto atisdioa to dm corer thee fs U.S. Govarnisat Property. ff you ma ser the oneodad roessiant of dm Infornastica, disclosure, tsfsmnifsetice% &nib/mos. or ane of di la edlinnstim is otaldbiter (IS MSC. f 611), llama notify the originator or dio local FBI 016ea uoniadatch to armee for Proper elsspaskiois•. DETAINEES-2129