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Call the Senate today! Ensure new Attorney General knows what torture is!

Posted by stoptorture on 13th January 2009

Our Nation’s Chief Lawyer Must Make A Clear Statement Against Torture

This Thursday, January 15th, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to decide whether nominee Eric Holder should be confirmed as the new Attorney General.  Over the last 8 years, the Bush administration has systematically dismantled some of the most important rights and protections in the U.S. Constitution. While Holder’s public statements suggest he would  be a marked improvement over Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mukasey, it is critical that the American public be certain that our nation’s chief lawyer has an unwavering commitment to upholding the rule of law.

Senate Judiciary Committee members have a serious responsibility to put an end to subverting law to politics – and to ensure that President-Elect Obama appoints an Attorney General who will help him restore, protect and expand our human rights.  And it is our responsibility to make our voices heard and stand against torture and other violations of human rights.

Please call the Senate Judiciary Committee members today and tell them that we need Eric Holder to make a clear statement against torture.  It will only take a few minutes to urge them to ask these critical questions:

Are you, unlike your predecessor, willing to acknowledge under oath what U.S. military and civilian courts have recognized for over 100 years: that waterboarding is torture and therefore criminal?  If so, will you fulfill your duty to ensure that justice and the rule of law apply to all by appointing a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute those who have used, ordered, and authorized the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture?

If you are not represented by a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, then call the committee staff directly at (202) 224-7703.

If you are a constituent of any of the following senators, please call the senators’ staffers at the numbers provided:

Patrick Leahy (D-VT) – (202) 224-7703 (SJC)

Edward Kennedy (D-MA) – (202) 224-7878 (SJC)

Herb Kohl (D-WI) – (202) 224-3406 (SJC)

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) – (202) 228-3841

Russell Feingold (D-WI) – (202) 224-5573 (SJC)

Charles Schumer (D-NY) – (202) 224-6542

Richard Durbin (D-IL) – (202) 224-2152 (SJC)

Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) – (202) 224-4524

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) – (202) 224-2921


Arlen Specter (R-PA) – (202) 224-5225 (SJC)

Orrin Hatch (R-UT) – (202) 224-5251

Charles Grassley (R-IA) – (202) 224-3744

Jon Kyl (R-AZ) – (202) 224-4521

Jeff Sessions (R-AL) – (202) 224-4124 (ask to speak with Matt Miner)

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – (202) 224-5972

John Cornyn (R-TX) – (202) 224-2934

Sam Brownback (R-KS) – (202) 224-6521

Tom Coburn (R-OK) – (202) 224-5754 

Posted in Activism, Events, Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 84 Comments »

URGENT: Call on Congress to Override the Bush Veto

Posted by stoptorture on 10th March 2008

An urgent appeal from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture:



Dear Friends:

On Saturday, March 8, President Bush vetoed H.R. 2082, an important piece of anti-torture legislation that would have banned the use of waterboarding, stress positions, induced hypothermia, and other so-called “harsh” interrogation techniques by requiring all U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, to abide by the restrictions in the Army Field Manual while conducting interrogations. H.R. 2082 was passed by a majority of both houses of Congress.

Sometime this week, possibly as soon as tomorrow, the U.S. House will vote on whether or not to override the President’s veto. It is very difficult to override a veto (it requires a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress), so the attempt to override may not be successful. That said, we want to make every effort to convince as many Members of Congress as possible to vote for the override.

Please call your Representative in Congress and urge him or her to vote to override the President’s veto of H.R. 2082, the Intelligence Authorization bill. To contact your Member of Congress you can call the Capitol switchboard at (202)224-3121 and ask to speak with your Representative.

Thank you for your efforts to end U.S.-sponsored torture.


Linda Gustitus, President, NRCAT
Richard Killmer, Executive Director, NRCAT

Posted in Activism, Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 47 Comments »

URGENT: Tell the White House to Sign the Anti-Torture Bill

Posted by stoptorture on 15th February 2008

***Call the White House at 202-456-1111, or email the President at to express your support for H.R. 2082 (the Intelligence Authorization bill).***


***The law (H.R. 2082) would prohibit the CIA from using techniques not authorized in the Army Field Manual, which also specifically bans many torture techniques, including waterboarding, stress positions, use of dogs, and others.***


A message from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture:


To Supporters of the National Religious Campaign Against TortureDear Friends:

We have good news. Earlier this week, on a 51-46 vote, the Senate passed important anti-torture legislation that would prohibit all U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, from engaging in torture or other so-called “harsh” interrogation techniques. This bill has already passed the House of Representatives and now it only needs the President’s signature to become law.

This is an enormous victory, and it is in part due to your efforts and the efforts of NRCAT. By emailing and calling your Senators, you made it clear to them that the American people expect Congress to take a clear stand against torture.

Unfortunately, however, the President has already said that he plans to veto the bill rather than sign it into law. If he does so, he will repudiate the will of both houses of Congress and of the American people. Worse, he will keep us an immoral and destructive path.

We ask you to call the White House at 202-456-1111, or to email the President at to express your support for H.R. 2082 (the Intelligence Authorization bill). Tell the President that we cannot win the war on terror by abandoning the values that made us great, and that he can help return us to those values by signing H.R. 2082.


Linda Gustitus, President, NRCAT
Richard Killmer, Executive Director, NRCAT


You have received this message because you endorsed the “Torture is a Moral Issue” statement of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture OR you signed up to receive more information from NRCAT.

If you no longer wish to receive emails from us, please click here to unsubscribe from this mailing list.

Questions? Please email
National Religious Campaign Against Torture: www.tortureisamoralissue.orgNew Web Address

Posted in Activism, Human Rights, Torture, U.S. Law | 51 Comments »

The Senate’s Chance to Redeem Itself on Mukasey and Torture

Posted by stoptorture on 24th January 2008

When asked at his confirmation hearing whether waterboarding used and approved by the Bush administration against detainees was torture, Michael Mukasey refused to answer because he had not been “read-in” on the details of the program. Well, after nearly three months as Attorney General, Mukasey has had plenty of opportunity to get any information he said he needed.

Having been “read-in” on the U.S. interrogation programs, what does Attorney General Mukasey think of waterboarding now? On January 30 at 10AM, he will have a chance to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee that voted to confirm him and answer precisely that question.

Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats have asked Mukasey in a letter to come prepared to answer two questions:

1. Is the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique illegal under U.S. law, including treaty obligations?

2. Based on your review of other coercive interrogation techniques and the legal analysis authorizing their use, what is your assessment of whether such techniques comply with the law?

Both these questions are good, but they do not touch on the central issue: accountability. As explained in a previous post, only the threat of criminal sanction can stop the U.S. torture program, and if the senators shy away from demanding that, they will be handing another victory to the torturers. If the senators are serious about ending the torture policy, they must also ask Mukasey the following questions:

3. Was the authorization of waterboarding criminal under the War Crimes Act, the Torture Statute, or other applicable laws?

4. Was the use of waterboarding criminal under the War Crimes Act, the Torture Statute, or other applicable laws?

5. Was the authorization of any of the techniques listed below criminal under the War Crimes Act, the Torture Statute, or other applicable laws? Was the use of any of the techniques listed below criminal under the War Crimes Act, the Torture Statute, or other applicable laws?:

4. Will you appoint a special counsel to conduct a full, public, and impartial criminal investigation on the authorization or use by U.S. personnel or assets of any of the above mentioned techniques against detainees?

Posted in Activism, Events, Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 19 Comments »

Will No One Listen to Bashmilah? Deaf Ears for CIA Torture Survivor

Posted by stoptorture on 19th December 2007

This week, a CIA black sites torture survivor, Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, spoke out through a lengthy report by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU Law School and in an interview with  His account has been filed in US federal court by the ACLU in a suit against rendition flight runners Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing.

The insight Mr. Bashmilah gives into his own torture and the workings of the CIA torture program is horrifying in fact and unprecedented in scope, yet it is largely being ignored by the media.

Often the most traumatic moments for a torture survivors come when they feel almost nobody believes them or care to listen.  We believe you Mr. Bashmilah, and we care.

Will no one listen to Bashmilah?

Posted in Activism, Human Rights, Torture | 25 Comments »

Students and Activists Demand Habeas Now

Posted by stoptorture on 6th December 2007

Students and activists held protests on campuses and in front of federal court houses in solidarity with Guantánamo detainees in the lead up to the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments December 5, 2007.

The Court in the Boumediene case is set to decide the question of whether detainees can challenge the lawfulness of their detention in court through the centuries old legal guaranteed of habeas corpus rights. Currently, the government claims the detainees, held indefinitely without charge on the island prison, have no right to appear before a judge.

Members of Witness Against Torture protested in front of the Supreme Court itself, making for a striking juxtaposition of the symbols of injustice and supposed justice.

At a protest in front of New York’s federal circuit court building involving NYU students and activist leaders, Betty Brassel, 77 and member of the Granny Peace Brigade and the Raging Grannies, said “everyone deserves a fair trial.” NYU student Elena Landriscina explained that the protest was to “to raise public consciousness about the issue of habeas.”

Nina Catalano, one of the coordinators of a protest on Harvard campus involving mock renditions, distilled the question before the Court in Boumediene in a less legalistic way: “If you are in a cell and there is no judge to hear you when you scream, do you make a sound?”

The protests were coordinated in large part through the work of Susan Hu at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

M�chel Angela Martinez, 2007 M�chel Angela Martinez, 2007

Photo Credit: Míchel Angela Martinez, 2007

Posted in Activism, Events, Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 36 Comments »


Posted by stoptorture on 1st November 2007

From the Harvard Law Student Advocates for Human Rights:


“The reason we don’t have an attorney general…is because the last one broke the law, and this one refuses to say torture is torture.” –Richard Clarke, former U.S. counterterrorism chief, speech before the Massachusetts Bar Association (Nov. 1, 2007)

Dear Friends,

Michael Mukasey, the man who wants to be our next attorney general, refuses to say that waterboarding is torture. Waterboarding dates from the time of the Spanish Inquisition. It is an ancient torture technique of repeated partial drowning. Water is forced into the prisoner’s lungs until he or she nears the point of death by drowning. The prisoners are then pulled back from the brink — usually. Waterboarding is torture, and torture is unconstitutional. All four of the top lawyers in the military unequivocally agree (see links at the bottom).

We need your help. Please take 30 seconds today to call your senators today and tell them to vote “NO” on Mukasey’s confirmation as attorney general [see senate phone numbers below]. The vote is on Tuesday, so please call your senators now! Without exaggeration, this is the best chance in years to take a stand against torture.

Senators from the key states of New York, California, Wisconsin, and Maryland are undecided.

The stakes are high — the Senate can stop Mukasey’s nomination. But if the Senate fails to act, it may well do the opposite, tacitly endorsing the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture. At Mukasey’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Richard Durbin, (D-IL), explained to Mukasey that the United States has prosecuted waterboarding as a war crime for more than a century. But Mukasey wouldn’t budge. This country cannot stand for yet another attorney general who doesn’t know right from wrong, who can’t state clearly what the laws and history of this country already make clear, who will not renounce torture.

Just two weeks ago, Mukasey’s confirmation looked like a sure thing. But his refusal to say whether waterboarding is torture has cast a dark shadow on his prospects. This turnaround was possible thanks to the pressure of voters like you. Since then, senators from both parties have called on Mukasey to clarify his position, but he has clung to an evasive answer. In a written response, Mukasey dismissed the controversy as “academic” and with “scant practical effect or value.” [For more information about waterboarding, its reported use by the U.S., and Mukasey’s letter on it, please see the links at the end of this e-mail].

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on sending Mukasey’s nomination to the full Senate this Tuesday, Nov. 6. But if the Committee votes “NO” on Mukasey, his nomination to the post of attorney general will likely fail.

Please take 30 seconds today to call your senators and tell them to vote “NO” on Mukasey’s confirmation.

Thank you for your help and for taking a stand against torture.


[Note: Mukasey’s name is pronounced “mew-CASEY.”]
1. Good morning/afternoon.

2. My name is ______________________.

3. I am a [optional: affiliation/occupation] and a constituent of Senator ____________.

4. I live at [your full address with ZIP — this information is very important to show that you are a voter—they do not use your address for anything else or pass it on ].

5. I’m calling to urge the senator to vote “NO” on Michael Mukasey’s confirmation as attorney general because I’m concerned about the issue of torture.

6. Waterboarding is torture, and it is a crime. If Mr. Mukasey can’t say that, he shouldn’t be attorney general.

7. The senator must not endorse Mr. Mukasey’s views on waterboarding by supporting his confirmation.

8. Thank you for your time.

KEY SENATORS ON THE ISSUE (these are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who are undecided/swing voters)

* New York — Sen. Schumer (D) — (202) 224-6542 [*KEY*]

* California — Sen. Feinstein (D) — (202) 224-3841 [*KEY*]

* Wisconsin — Sen. Kohl (D) — (202) 224-5653

* Maryland — Sen. Cardin (D) — (202) 224-4524

* Wisconsin — Sen. Feingold (D) — (202) 224-5323

* Pennsylvania — Sen. Specter (R) — (202) 224-4254

* South Carolina — Sen. Graham (R) — (202) 224-5972

SENATORS WHO HAVE SAID THEY WILL VOTE AGAINST MUKASEY (please call them, thank them for their support, and urge them to filibuster if necessary)

* Vermont — Sen. Leahy (D) — (202) 224-4242

* Delaware– Sen. Biden (D) — (202) 224-5042

* Illinois– Sen. Durbin (D) — (202) 224-2152

* Massachusetts — Sen. Kennedy (D) –– (202) 224-4543

* Rhode Island — Sen. Whitehouse (D) –– (202) 224-2921


Please see the single-page Senate directory:


Harvard Law School faculty letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on waterboarding:

New York Times frontpage coverage on the waterboarding controversy, Nov. 1, 2007:

Michael Mukasey’s response to Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats:

Human rights groups’ letter explaining that all four of the top lawyers in the military unequivocally agree that waterboarding is torture:


Posted in Activism, Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 14 Comments »