We had hoped, and expected, that the Obama administration would share our commitment to most if not all of these ends. The administration promised accountability, and initially it seemed ready to deliver. Immediately after taking office, President Obama disavowed torture and shuttered the CIA's black sites. Two months later, he agreed to release the Justice Department legal memos that sought to authorize torture.
But notwithstanding those early decisions, the administration has not made good on its promise of accountability. Now the administration is suppressing the evidence rather than disclosing it, and protecting torturers instead of investigating them. It is shielding Bush administration officials from civil liability, criminal investigation, and even public scrutiny.
* In FOIA suits, the administration is withholding key documents relating to the CIA's rendition, detention, and interrogation program. And it affirmatively supported new legislation to suppress photographs depicting the abuse of prisoners in defense Department custody.
* In civil damages suits, the administration has urged courts not to allow torture victims to bring claims under the Constitution. It has argued that officials should be immune from suit because it was not "clearly established" between 2002 and 2004 that torturing prisoners at Guantanamo was illegal. And in cases relating to the CIA, it has invoked the state secrets privilege to shut down lawsuits at the very outset.
* With respect to the criminal investigation initiated in August, the administration has offered a kind of immunity to interrogators who relied on the torture memos while also declining, at least so far, to investigate those who wrote the memos or authorized torture.
The Bush administration constructed a legal framework for torture, but the Obama administration is constructing a legal framework for impunity.