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Home / Press Release / Steven Bradbury, Despite Role in Torture Program, Passes Senate Confirmation
November 14, 2017

Steven Bradbury, Despite Role in Torture Program, Passes Senate Confirmation

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today expressed disappointment in the Senate’s confirmation of Steven Bradbury to serve as general counsel in the Department of Transportation. Bradbury had a pivotal role in authorizing the United States’ use of torture when he was a lawyer in the Bush Administration’s Department of Justice. His nomination passed the Senate today with a vote of 50-47.

“While acting as the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Steven Bradbury proved himself to be an advocate for the brutal treatment of detainees and then, when the Congress enacted the McCain amendment to strengthen the legal prohibitions against cruelty, he counseled the administration on legal strategies on how to circumvent the law and the Congress's will,” said Alberto Mora, former Navy general counsel. “In exercising its advice and consent duty with respect to the nominations of senior counsel to serve in this, or any, administration, the Senate should take care to confirm only those individuals with a clear record of respect for the law and for the powers of Congress as a coordinate and equal branch of government. Steven Bradbury’s record, unfortunately, demonstrates a disrespect for both."

Bradbury served as the acting head of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) from 2005 to 2009 under the Bush Administration. During his time at DOJ, he drafted legal memoranda that authorized the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of detainees held by the United States. Not only did Bradbury authorize illegal interrogation techniques, but he vehemently misrepresented his legal conclusions in authorizing torture to members of Congress.   

Secretary of Defense Mattis, Secretary of Homeland Security Kelly, Secretary of State Tillerson, Attorney General Sessions, FBI Director Chris Wray, and CIA Director Pompeo all publicly confirmed that they would refuse to allow a return to torture. 

"The United States tortured detainees as a direct result Bradbury's official actions,” noted Human Rights First’s Raha Wala. “He has no business ever holding public office again.”  

In June Human Rights First, along with 14 other leading human rights groups sent a letter to the Senate expressing serious concerns about Bradbury’s nomination. 

For more information or to speak with Mora or Wala, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.