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ACLU calls for Bush pardon over CIA tactics

The head of the American Civil Liberties Union wants President Obama to grant a pardon to people involved with the CIA’s controversial past, starting with former President George W. Bush.

Executive Director Anthony Romero, who has been one of the Bush administration’s biggest critics, on Tuesday wrote an op-ed in The New York Times urging Obama to issue pardons “because it may be the only way to establish, once and for all, that torture is illegal.”

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Given that Obama has shown an unwillingness to indict members of the Bush administration over the CIA’s use of waterboarding, “black sites,” and other means of collecting information that the White House now calls torture, Romero wrote that issuing pardons would at least make clear that what the former administration did after Sept. 11, 2001, was illegal.

“Pardons would make clear that crimes were committed; that the individuals who authorized and committed torture were indeed criminals; and that future architects and perpetrators of torture should beware,” he wrote.

“Prosecutions would be preferable, but pardons may be the only viable and lasting way to close the Pandora’s box of torture once and for all.”

Specifically, Romero called for Obama to pardon former CIA Director George Tenet for the use of “black sites,” former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for activities at the Guantanamo Bay facility and Bush and former Vice President Cheney for “overseeing it all.” He also called for pardons for former lawyers David Addington, John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who made crucial arguments that the programs were legal.  

The call comes hours ahead of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s expected release of a detailed, 600-page analysis of the CIA programs.

The release of the so-called “torture report” has raised alarms at American facilities around the world, where officials are bracing for violence and unrest.