The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) today released their “Torture Database” website, making over 100,000 pages of government documents on the George W. Bush administration’s interrogation policies, primarily obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests by the ACLU, searchable by the general public.
Alexander Abdo, a Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, announced the new database in a Guardian column today. Abdo wrote:
…[T]the government has yet to create a single, official report documenting the post 9/11 abuses. There is hope that the Senate Intelligence Committee will fill the void when it completes its long-expected report on the CIA’s program later this year. In the meantime, the ACLU today is launching the Torture Database to help fill the transparency gap. Our database allows researchers and the public to conduct sophisticated searches of thousands of documents relating to the Bush administration’s policies on rendition, detention, and interrogation.
Abdo and the ACLU hope the database will put pressure on the Obama administration to release more information about torture and other so-called enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) authorized during the Bush administration. “[The Obama administration] continues to withhold hundreds of CIA cables describing the use of waterboarding and other harsh techniques, hundreds of photographs of detainee abuse throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, and the presidential memorandum that authorized the CIA to establish its secret prisons overseas,” writes Abdo.
The database includes: Justice Department legal memos authorizing torture; autopsy reports completed by Army medical examiners after detainees died in U.S. custody; reports documenting and evaluating the interrogation practices of the military and CIA; and a series of email and correspondences “linking the CIA’s and military’s interrogation policies to officials at the highest levels of our government.”
While much of the database is dedicated to documents outlining torture and EITs, the ACLU emphasizes that the site also offers “inspiring and heroic stories” in the form of written dissents from soldiers, lawyers, officials and others as they resisted the interrogation policies approved by senior political leaders.