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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 »

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 »

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 »

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Boumediene, Guantanamo Detainee Case

Posted by stoptorture on 5th December 2007

Listen to the audio recording or read the transcript.

Posted in Events, Human Rights, Torture, U.S. Law | 15 Comments »

Student “Definite Detention” Sit-Out – April 25th noon (EST)

Posted by stoptorture on 19th April 2007

Student “Definite Detention” Sit-Out – April 25th noon (EST)

Posted in Activism, Events, Human Rights | 292 Comments »