Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Nationwide SOP Screening Was a Success!

Monday, October 20th, 2008

On October 6, twenty-seven campuses around the country came together for an evening of film and discussion about the US’s use of torture. The exclusive, nationwide screening of Standard Operating Procedure, followed by a webcasted interview with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris and lead author of PHR’s landmark report Broken Laws, Broken Lives, Farnoosh Hashemian, was a huge success and the first event of its kind. The evening brought together well over a thousand health professional students, posed and answered critical questions, and introduced new ideas for getting involved.

Thank you to all of the campuses who participated, including: Albert Einstein University; Boston University; Brown Medical School; Case Western; Chicago Medical School; Columbia Medical School; Weill Cornell; Dartmouth; Emory; George Washington University School of Medicine; Harvard Medical School; Indiana University; Johns Hopkins; Kansas University; Philadelphia College of Medicine; Rush University; St. George’s University; Tufts University; University of Michigan; University of Minnesota; University of Rochester; University of Texas, San Antonio; University of Texas, Dallas; University of Utah; Washington University; and Wright State.

The event got some attention in the Media & Arts circuit too! Read Errol Morris’ Next Doc To Be Screened For Doctors; It’s About Doctors Too in Media Bistro and Standard Operating Procedure Goes Medical, Digital in Variety.com.

Here are some photos from the event:

We also have the conversation with Morris and Hashemian available to watch and share with your friends here.

There were many more excellent questions submitted than we could answer in the time we had available, so we will have Farnoosh answer some of them in a subsequent blogpost. Please check back for that!

Finally, if you didn’t get the chance to sign the Call to Action petition, you can do so here.

Thanks to everyone who joined us from coast-to-coast to make this an electric night of unified awareness, critical thinking, and passion for human rights.

(Cross-posted on PHR Student Blog.)

Covert CIA Detention Center on British Soil Revealed

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

PHR Demands Trans-Atlantic Investigation and International Red Cross Access to All Detainees in US Custody

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) calls for a full trans-Atlantic investigation by Congress and the Parliament of the United Kingdom in the wake of today’s revelation by TIME magazine that the US covertly used Diego Garcia, a British island off the coast of India, as a top secret CIA detention center. Further, PHR demands that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) be given immediate access to all detainees that may still be held at Diego Garcia and other “black” site locations.

“The US and the UK must at last come clean about the scope of extraordinary rendition and secret detention—a violation of American and British law, human rights standards, and the rules and regulations of NATO,” stated Frank Donaghue, Chief Executive Officer of PHR. “Both Congress and Parliament must set the record straight about what happened at Diego Garcia. PHR knows from our twenty-one year history of documenting torture around the world that secret detention opens the floodgates to torture and other gross human rights abuses.”

The disclosure that Diego Garcia held CIA “ghost” detainees, such as Riduan Isamuddin, commonly known as “Hambali”, shows that General Michael Hayden, Director of the CIA, provided false information to senior members of the British Government. Director Hayden assured the Brown Government earlier this year that only two rendition flights had refueled at Diego Garcia. According to TIME, however, senior Bush Administration officials had been previously informed about the existence and use of the facility in highly classified briefings in the White House situation room.

“The Bush Administration’s detainee treatment and interrogation policies have damaged our nation’s reputation as human rights leader,” said Donaghue. “Seven years of secrets whispered in secret rooms must give way to on-the-record testimony and open hearings.”

PHR calls on the House and Senate committees on Intelligence and Armed Services to hold CIA Director Hayden and senior Bush Administration officials accountable. PHR also calls on Parliament to determine what current Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, current Foreign Secretary David Miliband, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, and other members of the Privy Council knew about US detention activities at Diego Garcia and when they knew it.

Since the publication of its landmark report in 2005 documenting the use of torture against detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Break Them Down: Systematic Use of Psychological Torture by US Forces, PHR has been a leading voice in the effort to end the use of abusive interrogation techniques during interrogations of detainees held by the US military and intelligence services. PHR published in June the report Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of US Torture and its Impact, an analysis of medical and psychological evaluations of detainees held at US detention facilities in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.,

Did You Hear Daniel Schorr Mention BLBL Last Week?

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

In an NPR All Things Considered news analysis segment, Daniel Schorr discussed the US Senate Armed Services Committee’s (SASC) questioning of William Haynes II, former General Counsel to the Defense Department.

SASC called the hearing to investigate the “origins of aggressive interrogation techniques.” Like other commentators, Daniel Schorr expressed his dismay at Haynes’ repeated insistence that he could not recall anything about the approval process for adapting SERE training techniques for use in US interrogations of terror suspects. As reported in the Washington Post, the line of questioning went like this:

Did he ask a subordinate to get information about harsh questioning techniques?

“My memory is not perfect.”

Did he see a memo about the effects of these techniques?

“I don’t specifically remember when I saw this.”

Did he remember doing something with the information he got?

“I don’t remember doing something with this information.”

When did he discuss these methods with other Bush administration officials?

“I don’t know precisely when, and I cannot discuss it further without getting into classified information.”

Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) had had enough. “You say you don’t remember it any more clearly than what you’ve said,” he pointed out. “Therefore, going into classified session isn’t going to give us any more information than what you’ve said, which is you had conversations but your memory is bad.”

“Correct,” Haynes agreed.

Daniel Schorr countered, however, that

There is other evidence about brutal treatment of detainees.

The Physicians for Human Rights organization is out with a report that examination of 11 former detainees in US military jails reveals scars and other injuries consistent with their accounts of beatings, electric shocks and other forms of abuse.

You can listen to Daniel Schorr’s full commentary here.

Inadequate Dialog on What Torture Looks Like

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Today’s Boston Globe editorial focuses on Broken Laws, Broken Lives and on the restoration by the courts of habeas corpus rights for Guantanamo prisoners.

Physicians for Human Rights arranged for extensive two-day medical examinations of former detainees, none of whom was ever charged with any crimes. The detainees said they had been subject to prolonged isolation, stress positions, temperature extremes, sexual and religious humiliation, menacing dogs, and death threats. As Leonard Rubinstein, the organization’s president, said last week, these “authorized techniques” led to unauthorized beatings, electric shocks, and sexual assaults, which prove, he said, “that once torture starts, it can’t be contained.”

The report does not name those who mistreated the detainees. Identifying them, and holding them accountable, is the responsibility of the US government. In a preface to the report, General Antonio Taguba, who led the Army’s investigation of Abu Ghraib, writes, “The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.” Repairing the harm this abuse has done to the nation’s name should begin with airing the issue in the campaign and lead to the punishment of those responsible.

The Globe protests that, despite the growing evidence of torture on and other war crimes by the US and the recent court rulings affirming rights that have been long denied, the torture issue has had little discussion in the US presidential campaigns.

Although the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has blackened the image of US power around the world, the issue has garnered only passing attention so far in the presidential race….

The decision by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit followed a Supreme Court ruling June 12, which restored the habeas corpus rights the Bush administration and Congress had taken from Guantanamo prisoners. The two court decisions and the human rights report are a withering rebuke of President Bush’s policies.

Until recently, Senator John McCain, the author of an amendment to ban torture in interrogating detainees, could point to a sharp difference with Bush on this issue. But in 2006 he voted to strip prisoners of habeas corpus rights, which allow them to challenge their imprisonment in court. Earlier this year, McCain voted to sustain Bush’s veto of a bill banning the CIA from using abusive interrogation methods. Senator Barack Obama opposed the 2006 law and favored the limits on CIA interrogations.

The Globe concludes:

Repairing the harm this abuse has done to the nation’s name should begin with airing the issue in the campaign and lead to the punishment of those responsible.

Physicians for Human Rights, 2 Arrow Street, Suite 301, Cambridge, MA 02138 | brokenlives[at]phrusa[dot]org | Tel 617.301.4219