Tuesday, August 25, 2009


From the announcement of a
Special Prosecutor to the
chilling stories of abuse in the
CIA Inspector General's report,
recent news brought a barrage
of developments on torture.

In short, we've seen small positive steps,
but the bigger picture remains deeply
disturbing: limited investigations,
impunity for those most responsible
for authorizing crimes of torture,
and policies like international rendition
and illegal detention remaining on the books.

» Call on President Obama and Congress to end
and ensure accountability for torture and other
human rights violations.

Here's what's happening and our next steps:
The appointment of a Special Prosecutor is a
positive step toward accountability. We have
long called for specific cases of detainee abuse by
government personnel and private contractors,
once shelved by the Bush Department of Justice,
to be re-opened – but much more must be done.

The scope of the Special Prosecutor's investigation
may be limited to the actions of a few mid-level
personnel, and we all know that evidence puts
responsibility for torture much higher up the
chain of command. We need a full investigation—
an independent commission of inquiry—to get the full truth.

The CIA finally released two classified memos that
Vice President Cheney had previously stated would
justify the use of torture. Amnesty International requested
the release of these memos in a Freedom of Information Act
request submitted jointly with the Center for Constitutional
Rights and New York University Law School. Far from
supporting torture, the memos, in fact, offered little evidence
of how attacks were prevented from obtaining testimony using
such disgraceful methods – another myth debunked.

The CIA Inspector General's report, long kept in secret
and released only due to a lawsuit by the ACLU, revealed
new details about the CIA's use of torture and underscores
the need for full accountability. Shameful stories about mock
executions, death threats to detainee's family members and
even an incident involving a power drill being placed to the head
of one detainee each add to the mountain of evidence weighing
against those at the highest levels who allowed such crimes to
occur under their supervision.

President Obama has approved the creation of special
interrogation unit and it must abide by the Army Field Manual.
The Field Manual is a far better standard than the heinous
Office of Legal Council's interrogation memos, however,
some techniques permitted by the Army Field Manual–
including sleep deprivation, isolation and exploitation of
fears–could still result in torture or other ill-treatment.
To ensure that the U.S. never tortures again, President
Obama and Congress must close all loopholes for torture
and other ill-treatment–as defined under international law.

Reports are also surfacing that the Obama administration
will continue the practice of international rendition–
sending detainees to other countries for interrogation,
outside of judicial review. Officials say that they are taking
steps to ensure that rendered detainees are not tortured.
President George W. Bush made the same promise.

As long as international rendition is on the books,
torture is an option. The ball is rolling. If it wasn't for
your calls, emails, letters and persistent activism
against torture, yesterday's news would have most
likely never have happened. And if you need more
proof that your actions are having an impact, just
look at the case of Mohammed Jawad. He was at
most 17 years old, and perhaps as young as 12,
when he was first detained and sent to Guantánamo
Bay prison. He was beaten, subjected to sleep
deprivation, interrogated and told his family would
be killed if he did not confess. For five years, he was
denied access to a lawyer.Recently, the intense scrutiny
being given to his case helped leverage a U.S. Supreme
Court ruling that allowed Jawad to have his day in court.

He was ordered released. The government dropped all

charges and this week he arrived home.This is how justice
works. We know there's a better standard for interrogation
methods and ensuring national security. This week's news

is only the beginning. Now we've got to do all we can to
ensure that yesterday's news isn't overlooked when crafting
tomorrow's policies.

Sincerely,Njambi Good
Campaign Director
Counter Terror With Justice
Amnesty International USA

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