Posts Tagged ‘us congress’

Len Rubenstein To Speak on US Torture at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council

Monday, October 27th, 2008

PHR President Len Rubenstein will address the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on Wednesday, October 29 on “Intelligence Gathering, Torture, and the Future of Interrogation in U.S. Anti-Terrorist Operations.”

Mr. Rubenstein’s leadership on PHR’s investigation of the Bush Administration’s coercive interrogations of detainees culminated in Broken Laws, Broken Lives. Since PHR published Broken Laws Broken Lives, Mr. Rubenstein has consulted actively with military officials and Congressional offices on revisions to US policy that would ensure an end to US government participation in illegal coercive interrogations.

The Los Angeles World Affairs Council is a non-partisan public affairs forum whose membership is comprised of business and community leaders.  Recent speakers at the Council have included CIA Director Michael Hayden and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  For more information about Mr. Rubenstein’s address, visit http://www.lawac.org/

Frank Donaghue Calls for Trans-atlantic Probe of “Black” Site on British Soil

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

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.,

Bob Herbert on the “landscape of broken bodies, ruined lives and profound shame”

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

In his Saturday column in the NY Times, Bob Herbert commemorated the 21st anniversary of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which was this past Thursday. He discussed the methodology and findings of Broken Laws, Broken Lives and called on the US Congress and on the American public to demand the full truth about post-Sept 11 US interrogation practices. Herbert’s closing paragraphs are especially powerful on the ramifications of US interrogation practices (emphasis added).

The sheer number of different ways in which detainees were reported to have been abused was mind-boggling. They were deprived of sleep, forced to endure extremes of heat and cold, chained in crouching positions for 18 to 20 hours at a time, told that their female relatives would be raped, that they themselves would be killed, and on and on. All to no good end.

The ostensible purpose of mistreating prisoners is to inflict pain and induce disorientation and despair, creating so much agony that the prisoners give up valuable intelligence in order to end the suffering. But torture is not an interrogation technique; it’s a criminal attack on a human being.

What the report makes clear is that once the green light is given to torture, the guaranteed result is an ever-widening landscape of broken bodies, ruined lives and profound shame to all involved.

Nearly all of the detainees profiled in the report have experienced excruciating psychological difficulties since being released. Several said that they had contemplated suicide. As one put it: “No sorrow can be compared to my torture experience in jail. That is the reason for my sadness.”

Congress and the public do not know nearly enough about the nation’s post-Sept. 11 interrogation practices. When something as foul as torture is on the table, there is a tendency to avert one’s eyes from the most painful truths.

It’s a tendency we should resist.

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.

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