Who is Accountable for U.S. Torture and Detention?

Thursday, April 1 2010

Written by Donna Emert

ACLU Attorney Ben Wizner to Address Ethics and Legality of Torture Policy

MOSCOW, Idaho – Shocking photos and reports from Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other U.S. war prisons have raised profound legal and moral questions about how the U.S. identifies, incarcerates, retains and treats prisoners of war.

Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, will discuss the impacts and implications of U.S. torture policies in his lecture, “Above the Law? Torture, Detention, and the Question of Accountability,” Monday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Idaho College of Law.

Wizner’s lecture will take place in room 104 of the Menard Law Building, 711 Rayburn (south of the intersection of Sixth and Rayburn streets) in Moscow. It is sponsored by the College of Law’s ACLU Club.

The NSP advocates for national security policies consistent with the Constitution, the rule of law and fundamental human rights. The project litigates cases relating to detention, torture, discrimination, surveillance, censorship and secrecy. Created as an informal working group after the September 2001 attacks, the National Security Project is now at the forefront of major legal battles relating to national security, civil liberties and human rights.

Documents requested by NSP and released under the Freedom of Information Act since 2007 revealed that under the Bush administration, hundreds of prisoners were tortured, and some killed, while in U.S. custody.

Last January, the ACLU filed suit against the Justice Department seeking a copy of the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility report on the authors of “torture memos.” The OPR released a report in February, detailing the investigations into allegations of misconduct by DOJ attorneys Steven Bradbury, John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who authorized the torture and abusive interrogation of detainees while serving in senior positions in the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel.

Wizner specializes in national security, human rights and First Amendment issues. He has litigated numerous post-9/11 civil liberties cases, including challenges to the CIA's extraordinary rendition program; lawsuits aimed at exposing FBI and Pentagon surveillance of non-violent protestors; and suits challenging unlawful airport security policies. He has traveled to Guantanamo Bay to observe and report on Military Commission trials. Wizner was a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and is a graduate of Harvard College and New York University School of Law.
# # #

About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. The university is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.