WASHINGTON: M&R Strategic Services is handling media relations duties for a lawsuit announced Tuesday holding Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld personally responsible for the "the torture and abuse of detainees in US military custody."
The suit was filed by Human Rights First, a longtime M&R client, and the ACLU. The two groups are representing eight men who they say were detained and tortured by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We're going to be contacting a lot of the media that covered the [Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales hearing," said M&R SVP Sean Crowley. The agency handled similar tasks for Human Rights First's campaign to raise questions about Gonzales' role in formulating US interrogation policies.
Crowley said he anticipated heavy media interest in the suit because it is the first civil suit by Iraqi citizens against a top US government official. He added that M&R's role will probably wane until the suit is decided in court, at which time he expects coverage to peak once again.
In a press conference Tuesday morning, ACLU executive director Anthony Romero called on the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate US interrogation methods. "The government has fought vigorously to keep its secrets quiet," Romero said. "The full story...must see the light of day."
The Defense Department issued a statement following the press conference that said "No policies or procedures approved by the Secretary of Defense were intended as, or could conceivably have been interpreted as, a policy of abuse."