INTRO from blogger: This letter although written sometime back is still profoundly current. May I suggest that many of you use this and other models and information to contact your legislators at this time when you may well be able to meet with them during the short window in April. (Look for more suggestions also in the Comments section below the post)
The following personal letter was sent to a participant among a peace gathering in my local area - in response to his concern. This response is a reminder that we can and do have an impact. This letter is a challenge for us to keep writing ALL our US legislators. (And yours' as well in other countries if you have some concerns local or otherwise. For example, the extraordinary rendition photo below the letter is from a group concerned about US rendition flights through their areas of Ireland.)
LETTER FROM Representative HEATH SHULER, North Carolina, USA to a peace activist in WNC. Sent before recent presidential election.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me with your thoughts regarding the treatment of enemy combatants and terrorist suspects by the United States. Your views are important to me, and I appreciate hearing from you.
Due to an error in our mail system, my response to your correspondence may not have been sent out. It is possible that you may have received an earlier response, however I want to make certain. In either case, please accept my apologies for any delay in or duplication of correspondence. Your thoughts are extremely important to me, and I hope you continue to share them with me.
I am deeply troubled by the CIA's use of highly controversial interrogation techniques. Such treatment does not comply with U.S. statutes and treaties such as the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the 1949 Geneva Conventions. As General David Petraeus, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and countless other current and former military officers have attested, torture is an ineffective method of extracting reliable information from detainees, and sets a dangerous precedent that would jeopardize the safety of our military men and women overseas.
In the 110th Congress, several pieces of legislation have been introduced that intend to limit the use of certain interrogation techniques against security detainees by members of the intelligence community. H.R. 2082, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, as reported out of conference on December 6, 2007, would generally bar any person, in the custody or effective control of either an element of the intelligence community or a contractor or subcontractor of the intelligence community, from being subjected to any treatment or interrogation tactic not authorized by the Army Field Manual. This prohibition would effectively bar the CIA and others from employing certain controversial interrogation techniques, such as water-boarding or sleep deprivation, regardless of whether the intelligence community had previously deemed such techniques as legally permissible.
H.R. 4156, the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act of 2008, which was passed by the House on November 14, 2007, would generally bar all federal agencies, including the CIA, from using any treatment or interrogation tactic that is not authorized or listed by the Army Field Manual.
H.R. 1352, the Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act, prohibits the transportation of people by the United States for the purpose of detention, interrogation, or trial, and amends the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 to direct the appropriate government agencies to prescribe regulations to implement U.S. obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Finally, S.1872, the National Security with Justice Act of 2007 would prohibit a U.S. officer or agent from detention of an individual outside of the United States or transferring any individual to another legal jurisdiction in order to detain them. This legislation would also provide uniform standards for the interrogation of individuals by the U.S. government, and extend statutory habeas corpus to persons detained by the United States who have been determined to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant.
Our Constitution and laws apply to all Americans, and to all branches of government. They may not be ignored and are not open to imaginative reinterpretations. On December 20, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on the matter, examining the Justice Department's role in the use of torture in detainee interrogations. I look forward to working with my colleagues to address the results of these hearings. Please be assured I will keep your thoughts in mind if I have an opportunity to act on any legislation related to this situation.
Again, thank you for sharing your views about this important matter. I encourage you to check my website at here for continued updates on my work, and please do not hesitate to contact me again about those issues that are important to you. It is an honor to serve you in the U.S. Congress.
(END of Letter)
NOTE: Here's a little more on Rep. Heath Shuler's Voting Record:
In 2007 he voted for an amendment to close the SOA/WHINSEC and in 2008 he voted for an amendment to open the files on WHINSEC students to the public (so we can track who is attending, teaching, etc.--this used to be public information, but during the Bush Administration, the School changed its policy and refused to release the names).
Among other "good votes" Shuler made were: 1. To reduce the military aid that Colombia received in favor of humanitarian aid, and 2. Voted against approving the Colombia Free Trade agreement (though, on retrospect, this may never have come to a vote, he may have just registered his opposition, and since Republican congressmen didn't have the votes, avoided bringing it to the floor).
Submitted by Linda Mashburn - who follows these votes closer than anyone in our area and beyond. She has been very active with the School of the Americas Watch campaign. Find out more about this campaign by going here
CURRENT items on torture & related by the oneheartforpeace blogger:
Here are some important recent reports of anguished perplexity and deep concern
As always the breaking stories and thoroughly-researched reports by Andy Worthington. If you are really concerned about Torture via USA/Britain - please don't fail to read the articles and the COMMENTS on Andy's site - if you get the chance as they are really "buzzing" these days with lots of energy and additional information! For his latest discusses the horrendous paying of bounty involved in US detainees and the fact that there is an internal report which has yet to surface connecting the Bush/Cheney lawyers to the rampant torture under that administration, carrying over into the current one GO here
NOTE the following as well - just posted here (from March 17): Also involving $ obviously corrupting any kind of decent accountability - STILL supporting a group which many good folk believe were/are history...yet not folk!
President Obama, Why Did You Pay Blackwater $70 Million in February? (Blackwater is NC based) By Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet (Jeremy Scahill wrote the "bible" on Blackwater--Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army- An international Bestseller, "A crackling espose" NYTimes Book Review, now Revised & Updated - Winner of the George Polk Award. He is now fellow at The Nation Institute.
Posted on March 17, 2009, Printed on March 17, 2009
For those already outraged at the AIG bonus scandal, here is a fact that should add more fuel to the fire: The Obama administration has paid the mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater nearly $70 million to operate in Iraq and, according to The Washington Times, may keep the company on the payroll months past the official expiration of its Iraq contract in May. I reviewed Blackwater's recent transactions with the Obama State Department and discovered a $45 million payment to Blackwater on February 4, 2009 for "protective services-Iraq." It is described as a "funding action only." Here is the interesting part: The estimated "Ultimate Completion Date" is 5/07/2011.
The Washington Times (as described below) reported on a $22 million payment to Blackwater on February 2. Combined with the $45 million payment I discovered, that's nearly $67 million in 72 hours. Not bad for a company supposedly going down in flames.
With the U.S. economy in shambles and millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet and keep their homes, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton need to explain to U.S. taxpayers how they justify these mega-payments to a scandal-plagued mercenary company. (At the very least, someone should ask Robert Gibbs about it).
It has been widely reported that the Bush administration's preferred mercenary company, which recently renamed itself Xe, will soon be leaving Iraq...The Iraqi government has said it wants the company to leave Iraq and says it has revoked the company's operating license. The Obama administration continues to use Blackwater in Afghanistan and the company has extensive domestic training contracts with the military and law enforcement agencies inside the borders of the U.S. (read more by clicking on the Alternet link above)
(Blackwater/Xe spokeswoman Anne Tyrell declined to comment on the status of the company's work in Iraq or the Feb. 2 contract modification. She said the company was aware that the State Department had indicated that it did not plan to renew its contracts in Iraq but that Xe officials had not received specific information about leaving the country. "We're following their direction," she said. Blackwater recently renamed itself Xe and its owner Erik Prince "resigned" as CEO, though he remains its sole owner and chairman.)
Also ADDED: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 (of grave concern!)
EXCLUSIVE: New deal for Blackwater Jim McElhatton (Contact)
here Days after the Baghdad government decided it no longer wanted the company then known as Blackwater in Iraq, the State Department signed a $22.2 million deal in February to keep the embattled contractor working there through most of the summer, contract records show.
Britians Insane Secret Terror Evidence
here and please go through this entire site and read much more - order his book - a "Bible" for all who are interested in this topic!
The above report on Care2 along with readers' COMMENTS
New Evidence of Bush Torture Crimes
Recently Advanced Edited UN Report:
This is quite perplexing but we need to watch it & act on it, as much as we like Obama on so many other issues! This is from Bill of Rights Defense Committee:
"Recent Threats to Liberties: Obama Administration Takes Bush Position on Extraordinary Rendition Case -Since Barack Obama became president, many people have lauded the steps his administration has taken toward closing Guantánamo Bay detention center and improving government transparency. On February 9, however, the new administration proved that it will not be everything Obama promised during his campaign. Last year, the Bush administration invoked the state secrets privilege and had a case on extraordinary rendition thrown out of court. This month, the Obama administration took the same position and called for the case to be dismissed. Read more in BORDC's February newsletter. here (Let's all work hard to get this changed! Letters, Faxes, Calls - what else?)
Why & How's of Need to Prosecute for war crimes (includes Robert Parry, Jason Leopald and Marjorie Cohn as well as concerns that the Bush admin. lawyers are also prosecuted. A Special Prosecutor is being called for currently by many groups as you may well know.)
Here's a photo of an Extraordinary Rendition flight (sometimes called torture flights) here