News Release

NACDL President Condemns Talk of Torture, Truth Serum

Speculation on government's potential to resort to human rights violations alarms criminal defense bar 

Washington, DC (2001, exact date unknown) -- Concerned by recent reports that the FBI and other government agencies are considering the use of means ranging from pressure to drugs for getting information from terrorism suspects, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers President Irwin Schwartz issued the following statement:

"America must fight the scourge of international terrorism. However, whether we do it ourselves or arrange for another country to do it, the use of physical or psychological torture tactics or forced chemical interrogation is as reprehensible morally as the actions of those we are fighting. We cannot allow terrorists to defeat us by making us act like them.

"We cannot undertake torture of any sort without justifying similar acts by our enemies. Just as we have condemned these tactics if used by our enemies, we must repudiate their use.

"All our laws, civilian and military--our own constitution, the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Convention, and other international agreements--prohibit torture. This is not the time to abandon our faith in the rule of law.

"Attorney General Ashcroft should promptly and forcefully disclaim any intention to apply unlawful means to extract information from people whom America has detained. And the Attorney General should act to stop reckless discussion of such tactics by law enforcement agents."

Schwartz is a criminal defense lawyer in Seattle. He can be reached at (206) 623-5084. 

Additional contacts: 
Prof. Speedy Rice, Chair, NACDL International Affairs Committee, (509) 323-3703. 
Ted Simon, Immediate Past Chair, NACDL International Affairs Committee, (215) 563-5550. 
Jack Zimmermann, Chair, NACDL Military Law Committee, (713) 552-0300.

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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.