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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 »

UK Parliament: US non-torture assurances are unreliable

Posted by stoptorture on 20th July 2008

EXCERPT from a UK multi-party parliamentary report published July 20, 2008 (complete report here):

49. In 2005, President Bush said that “we do not torture.”

53. We conclude that the Foreign Secretary’s view that water-boarding is an instrument of torture is to be welcomed. However, given the recent practice of water-boarding by the US, there are serious implications arising from the Foreign Secretary’s stated position. We conclude that, given the clear differences in definition, the UK can no longer rely on US assurances that it does not use torture, and we recommend that the Government does not rely on such assurances in the future. We also recommend that the Government should immediately carry out an exhaustive analysis of current US interrogation techniques on the basis of such information as is publicly available or which can be supplied by the US. We further recommend that, once its analysis is completed, the Government should inform this Committee and Parliament as to its view on whether there are any other interrogation techniques that may be approved for use by the US Administration which it considers to constitute torture.

Posted in Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 27 Comments »

Torture in Cook County, Illinois

Posted by stoptorture on 18th July 2008

Routine abuse by guards, horrendous conditions, and serious mismanagement at the Cook County Jail in Chicago, according to a federal report (link; p. 10-18 especially) released today.

Death threats, beatings, discrimination, intimidation, severe head trauma, amputations for lack of medical treatment, you name it. Torture in Barack Obama’s home state. What will be his response?

Excerpts from the scathing Jul. 2008 report: (see also, NYTimes report)

Excerpts from the Federal report on Cook County Jail

Posted in Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 267 Comments »

Former DoJ lawyer refuses to rule out burying people alive

Posted by stoptorture on 28th June 2008

When asked at a recent Congressional hearing, John Yoo–chief legal architect of the Bush torture policy and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel–refused declare that burying prisoners alive would be illegal for the president to order.  Watch here.

As noted previously here and here, in prior Congressional hearings in 2007 and 2008, current attorney general Michael Mukasey refused to say whether he thought waterboarding, beatings, electric shocks, or the use of the rack and screw could be authorized by the president.  Watch those videos here and here.

Posted in Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 18 Comments »

Supreme Court says “prompt” habeas hearings are Guantánamo detainees’ right

Posted by stoptorture on 13th June 2008

The good: Boumediene ruling (Supreme Court says “prompt” habeas hearings are Guantánamo detainees’ right. They have a right to habeas corpus. Really this time. No, really. No, no, really. At least until the administration attempts another convenient work around.).

The bad: Munaf ruling (Meanwhile, on the same day, the Supreme Court failed to adequately protect two U.S. citizens from transfer to Iraqi custody, under which they say they will be tortured).

The ugly: John McCain categorically calls all Guantánamo detainees “unlawful combatants” even though their right to have a real judge determine whether such labels apply is what all the fuss in the Supreme Court has been about. McCain also suggested that because the Guantánamo detainees are foreigners, they do not deserve the right to try to prove to a judge why they should not be imprisoned.

Posted in Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 156 Comments »

Four Years Later, Still No Justice for Abu Ghraib

Posted by stoptorture on 28th April 2008

Today marks four years since the public release of the Abu Ghraib photos. New photos keep emering, and despite a mountain of evidence, not one major leader in the chain of command has been brought to justice for torture.


Posted in Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 29 Comments »

Supreme Court Allows Prisoners to Die Painfully

Posted by stoptorture on 16th April 2008

All life is sacred!The Supreme Court chose to OK lethal injections again. In reaction, Kentucky, Montana, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Florida got excited about killing people again.

Meanwhile, Bush tells the Pope that Americans “need your message that all life is sacred.”

From Justice Stevens’s concurring opinion in the case (citations omitted): “Because it masks any outward sign of distress, pancuronium bromide creates a risk that the inmate will suffer excruciating pain before death occurs. There is a general understanding among veterinarians that the risk of pain is sufficiently serious that the use of the drug should be proscribed when an animal’s life is being terminated. As a result of this understanding among knowledgeable professionals, several States–including Kentucky–have enacted legislation prohibiting use of the drug in animal euthanasia. It is unseemly–to say the least–that Kentucky may well kill petitioners using a drug that it would not permit to be used on their pets.”

Posted in Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 356 Comments »