“No” to holding prisoners without charges or trials!
On February 20th, the Obama Administration told a federal court that it “will maintain the Bush administration’s position that battlefield detainees held without charges by the U.S. in Afghanistan are not entitled to constitutional rights to challenge their detention.”
The U.S. Supreme Court, in Boumediene v. Bush (2008) affirmed that “enemy combatants” imprisoned at Guantánamo have “the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus,” the right to challenge their legal detention in court. The decision, however, did not address those prisoners held at other U.S.-sponsored detention facilities.
Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan currently houses between 600 and 650 detainees, while several thousand prisoners are held in Iraq. The prisoners are asking for a U.S. judge to review the evidence being used to detain them, and if appropriate, to order their release.
“No” to interrogation technique “exceptions”
In President Obama’s executive order to ban torture—limiting the CIA to those interrogation techniques that are explicitly identified in the Army Field Manual—a Special Task Force on Interrogation and Transfer Policies has been commissioned to review previously used “enhanced interrogation techniques” and to determine whether any of these nonpublic interrogation techniques could be used by the CIA in the future.
“We believe this would undo all of the good that an Executive Order on this issue is intended to achieve. In order to recommit to our country’s value that each person has inherent worth and dignity, the Executive Order banning torture must be issued without exceptions, without any secret options. It must be government-wide, unequivocal and not subject to interpretation. Anything less would defeat its purpose and cause grave concern throughout the world. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture urges the President-elect to reject the addition of any classified annex.”
-Statement from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT)
(1) the "Golden Rule" - any technique approved for use by a U.S. agency be one we would consider both moral and legal if used upon a captured American;
(2) all U.S. agencies be required to follow one transparent national standard for interrogations - secret guidelines lead to the type of abuse we've seen in recent years;
(3) modification or removal of Appendix M from the Army Field Manual, so as to ensure that techniques like prolonged isolation are not misused to torture detainees.
“No” to invoking the “State Secrets Privilege” to block justice!
The Bush Administration set up an “Extraordinary Rendition” Program to transport “terror suspects” to countries like Egypt, Syria or Morocco, to be interrogated. In these countries, “harsh interrogation techniques,” which constitute torture, are routinely used.
While detained at a CIA facility in Morocco, according to Court Papers, Binyam Mohamed, a 30-year-old Ethiopian native, “was routinely beaten, suffering broken bones and, on occasion, loss of consciousness. His clothes were cut off with a scalpel and the same scalpel was then used to make incisions on his body, including his penis. A hot stinging liquid was then poured into open wounds on his penis where he had been cut. He was frequently threatened with rape, electrocution and death.” [Binyam Mohamed was released from Guantánamo on February 23…the first release under Pres. Obama!]
The program has been challenged in court, but the Bush Administration has claimed that even discussing case details in court would threaten national security and our relationships with other nations. This became known as the “state secrets privilege.”
On February 9th in federal court, the Obama Administration took the same position as the Bush Administration. Attorney General Eric Holder previously announced that the privilege would be invoked “only when necessary and in the most appropriate cases.”
Articles on Binyam Mohamed’s case
PBS Frontline Special on Extraordinary Rendition