Civil liberties and veterans groups will file a formal request with the federal government today seeking information on whether prisoners in U.S. custody in terrorism cases have been tortured or mistreated during interrogations, sys the Washington Post. The request, under the Freedom of Information Act, tracks media reports that U.S. authorities have used questionable techniques, including sleep deprivation and withholding medications, against prisoners held abroad.
The American Civil Liberties Union and four other groups, including Physicians for Human Rights and Veterans for Peace, seek records on the treatment of detainees held in U.S. custody as well as those who were given to other countries for interrogation. Use of coercive interrogation techniques would violate domestic and international law, the groups say.
“The president and a number of senior officials have assured the public that the United States is committed to international law,” said Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU. “This provides the government with an opportunity to flesh that out a little, to explain to us what they’re doing and to assure us that detainees are not being mistreated.”
The Bush administration pledged in June that the U.S. would not torture terrorism suspects or treat them cruelly in an attempt to extract information. Critics have largely been unsuccessful in obtaining details from the Bush administration about detainees in the war on terrorism. In June, a federal appeals court upheld the government’s refusal to release the names of hundreds of people detained domestically after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.