On June 7, a coalition of human rights and civil liberties organizations called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay voting on Steven Engel’s nomination to lead the Office of Legal Counsel until they clarify his involvement in a 2007 memo signed by Steven Bradbury that authorized the CIA to restart its torture program. (Mr. Bradbury was recently nominated to serve as general counsel for the Department of Transportation).
The 2007 memo argued CIA “enhanced interrogation techniques”—including sleep deprivation by means of shackling diapered detainees in a standing position for up to 96 consecutive hours—complied with the Geneva Conventions. Mr. Engel acknowledged in response to written questions from Senators that he reviewed and commented on the 2007 memo, but would not respond to substantive follow-up questions about its erroneous factual statements and legal analysis. The coalition stated that this “evasion is not acceptable. Before voting on Mr. Engel’s nomination, the Judiciary Committee should request from the Department of Justice his comments and correspondence on the 2007 memo, as well as any other documents that he produced during his previous tenure at OLC relating to the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program.”
Last week, the Department of Justice returned its copy of the Senate’s extensive study of the CIA’s torture program, preventing officials from reading and learning from it. In light of this, the coalition also urged the committee to obtain “a firm commitment by Mr. Engel to obtain and review the full Senate study on detention and interrogation.”
The full letter is available here.