Monday, June 29, 2009

UPDATING: We Need Accountability! Our US Leaders and Legislators Own Words

This is both a review and CONSTANTLY UPDATING POST which will be revisted from time to time (so please bookmark in case you need this bill numbers and info later.)

Recently North Carolina leaders - including those from North Carolina Stop Torture Now - joined the National Religious Campaign Against Torture in a day of action and lobbying in Washington, D.C. and visited with several members of the North Carolina Congressional delegation to ask for Congressional action to ensure accountability and restorative justice.

Members of Congress were asked to co-sponsor or otherwise support:

H.R. 984 – The State Secret Protection Act of 2009 (co-sponsored by Reps. David Price and Mel Watt);

H.R. 893 - American Anti-Torture Act of 2009;

H.R. 591 – The Interrogation and Detention Reform Act, sponsored by Rep. David Price, (co-sponsored by Reps. Brad Miller and Mel Watt);

S. 417 – State Secrets Protection Act; and

S. 147 – Lawful Interrogation and Detention Act.

Also of note: Rep. Shuler, he has concerns about the CIA's use of torture and extraordinary rendition.

He writes: "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."

And, also notes: "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."

June 15, 2009 US Senator Richard Burr - also from North Carolina - wrote a detailed message expressing concerns about the use of interrogation techniques. He wrote:

"Our nation's government works best when its activities adhere to the principles of transparency and accountability. I am troubled whenever any of these principles are questioned, because it is essential that Americans have confidence in those who lead our country...I have cosponsored (a bill) called the Limitations on Interrogation Techniques Act of 2009 (S. 248)This legislation would prohibit the use of harsh interrogation techniques on detainees held in US custody (and) is currently awaiting further action by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence." Senator Burr's Website: here. Several from NCSTN are looking further into Sen. Burr's work on these issues.

On March 10, state Representatives Paul Luebke, Earl Jones and Pricey Harrison sent U.S. Reps. Brad Miller, David Price, Mel Watt and G.K. Butterfield a letter urging each to follow-up on Attorney General Cooper's and Congressman Watt's request for an FBI investigation of Aero Contractors.


NCSTN joins "No More Guantánamos" Effort

At the June 28 meeting, members endorsed a proposal to actively engage and support an effort led by Bill of Rights Defense Committees' founder, Nancy Talanian.

The aim of No More Guantánamos is "to involve the American public in reversing U.S. detainee policies and practices that have denied hundreds of innocent men their freedom and that have made the U.S. and the world less safe."

NCSTN welcomed the President's prompt announcement of plans to close Guantánamo and his promise to end the use of torture by U.S. military and intelligence operatives.

We noted, though, that the President stopped short of any commitment to prohibit the kidnap and disappearances of children and (adults) to third countries for indefinite detention and torture.

The new administration:

1) Has taken no steps to end extraordinary rendition.

Indeed, there is every reason to believe the program has been accelerated and expanded.

2) Has refused to advocate for and enforce detainees' right to due process.

3) Continues to thwart victims' and survivors' access to restorative justice by shielding his and the previous executives' actions behind the veil of state secrets.

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert notes that:

"One of the most disappointing aspects of the early months of the Obama administration has been its unwillingness to end many of the mind-numbing abuses linked to the so-called war on terror and to establish a legal and moral framework designed to prevent those abuses from ever occurring again."
"Americans should recoil as one against the idea of preventive detention, imprisoning people indefinitely, for years and perhaps for life, without charge and without giving them an opportunity to demonstrate their innocence."

Our nation was founded on resistance to just such tyranny, after all.

Yet, this President openly defies federal court orders, echoing tactics used by renegade executives in the Jim Crow South.

As Amnesty International notes:

"President Obama noted in a May 21, 2009 speeach that 'the United States is a nation of laws, and we must abide by ...' (federal court rulings)

Yet, Chadian national Mohammed el Gharani, first taken into custody by the USA when he was 14 years old, was not released from Guantánamo until June 11, 2009, five months after his immediate release was ordered by a federal court. Even then, although the US Department of Justice noted the judicial order, it stated that the release was the result of executive review of the case."

Courtesy of North Carolina Stop Torture Now

1 comment:

Connie L. Nash said... 2-minute Chomsky Video recorded in 2002 - still applies today US/Britain telling world: "We do not defer to any authority"