(Washington, DC) – On November 14, 2017, the US Senate approved Steven Bradbury as general counsel of the federal Department of Transportation by a 50-47 vote. As the acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the US Department of Justice from 2005 to 2009 under then-President George W. Bush, Bradbury wrote several significant opinions that gave legal cover to waterboarding and other CIA abuses of detainees that have long been recognized as torture.
“The confirmation of Steven Bradbury sends a dangerous message that the US Senate will, without serious scrutiny, confirm nominees for prominent government posts who have been responsible for authorizing torture," said Letta Tayler, senior terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch. "By giving legal cover to waterboarding and other torture and inhumane treatment of detainees in violation of US and international law, Bradbury failed to uphold the respect for human rights and the rule of law that are critical for any US government lawyer. US authorities should be placing Bradbury under criminal investigation along with other US officials who played a key role in systematic torture during the George W. Bush presidency.”
Human Rights Watch is among 13 nongovernmental organizations that outlined their concerns about Bradbury in a letter to the US Senate Transportation Committee. Human Rights Watch has extensively documented why ranking Bush administration officials should be prosecuted for torture.