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OPEN LETTER TO ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER:

Mr. Holder, You Must Hold Torturers Accountable

May 11, 2009       
(but still no response as of June 24)

Attorney General Eric Holder
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530


Dear Sir:

As good citizens, we are writing to you out of duty, knowing that if felonies have been committed we are to inform a magistrate. Silently to observe the commission of a felony, without using any endeavors to apprehend the offender, is a misprision.

We are writing on behalf of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance. We are concerned citizens who tried to prevent the illegal invasion of Iraq. While we were unsuccessful, we have been devoting much time and energy to convince Congress to end the occupation. Over time we discovered that the Bush-Cheney administration engaged in illegal behavior leading up to the war and afterwards.

NCNR members would like to meet with you to discuss the indictment of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney. We are quite flexible and would arrange our schedules to meet with a DOJ representative at a selected date and time. Our group would be small, and it would include someone who was directly affected by the illegal invasion of Iraq. Note there is an urgency to this matter.

At the meeting we would hope to discuss several examples of what we perceive to be illegal behavior on the part of the Bush administration. For example, the administration made false claims about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in order to build a public case for war. This manipulation of pre-war intelligence included a claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which could threaten the United States. Intelligence was also manufactured to claim a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.

It is our understanding, though, that on October 1, 2002, the CIA provided Bush with its National Intelligence Estimate, a consensus opinion of all sixteen US intelligence agencies. On page 8, it clearly states Hussein was not an imminent threat to the security of this country.

It can be argued that the architects of the Iraq war had a criminal state of mind.

After the invasion of Iraq, the resulting calamity has left more than 4,000 members of the U.S. military dead, thousands more wounded, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis and the wholesale destruction of a country. It can be argued that the architects of this war had a criminal state of mind.

The Iraq invasion appears to have violated numerous U.S. and international laws, including but not limited to USC 2441 (War Crimes Act of 1996), the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Tribunal Charter, the U.N. Charter and Resolutions, the Laws and Customs of War on Land.

Moreover, the invasion seems to have violated numerous U.S. and international laws, including but not limited to USC 2441 (War Crimes Act of 1996), the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Tribunal Charter, the U.N. Charter and Resolutions, the Laws and Customs of War on Land. We also believe U.S. law was violated through widespread wiretapping of the phone calls and emails of U.S. citizens without a warrant. The violations continued with the authorization to torture thousands of captives, resulting in dozens of deaths, and to hide prisoners in order to deny them due process.

Every day we are learning more about the atrocities committed under the Bush/Cheney administration. The recently released "torture memos" provide further verification of illegal acts committed under the watch of the previous administration. The memos are an attempt to justify and legalize torturous, cruel, and inhuman treatment, including techniques that are illegal such as banging heads into walls 30 times in a row, prolonged nudity, repeated facial and abdominal slapping, dietary manipulation, and dousing with cold water as low as 41 degrees. They allow shackling in a standing position for 180 hours, sleep deprivation for 11 days, confinement of people in small dark boxes with insects for hours, and waterboarding to create the perception they are drowning. Moreover, the memos permit many of these techniques to be used in combination for a 30-day period, subjecting detainees to "psychic demolition"—essentially severing them from their personalities and scaring them "almost to death."

In an article published on Common Dreams on April 23, 2009, Ray McGovern notes, “Retired U.S. Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, told 'Frontline' on December 13, 2005 that ‘up to 100 detainees had died while in detention. Of that 100, some 27 have been declared officially homicides.’ Those running Bush administration interrogations are no doubt aware by now that the War Crimes Act (18 U.S. Code 2441) passed by a Republican-controlled Congress in 1996 provides that the death penalty can be given to those responsible for the deaths of detainees.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, appointed by President Truman to be the Chief Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunals following World War II, stated, "...let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment." Thus we have a Nuremberg obligation to try to hold our government officials accountable.

Also there is a well-established law in our jurisprudence which places an affirmative duty on all of us to expose any treasonous or criminal act which comes to our attention. Failure to do so is defined as "misprision." As good citizens, we are writing to you out of duty, knowing that if felonies have been committed we are to inform a magistrate. Silently to observe the commission of a felony, without using any endeavors to apprehend the offender, is a misprision.

We look forward to your response and the scheduling of a meeting. In this country, there is the belief no person is above the law. Therefore, we are calling on your office to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the entire torture team. We believe this will lead to the indictment and prosecution of Bush, Cheney and others who are accused of the serious violations of the law which we enumerated above.

In peace,

Joy First
Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Madison, WI

Maria Allwine
Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore

Hal Anthony
President, Rogue Valley Veterans for Peace Chapter 156

Jean Athey
PeaceAction Montgomery [County, Maryland]

Joseph R. Attamante
Veterans for Peace, Alan Reilly-Gene Glazer Chapter 21

Timothy Baer
Campaign Coordinator, The Declaration of Peace

Ellen Barfield
Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter Veterans for Peace,
Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore
Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Elaine Brower
Military Families Speak Out and National Steering Committee, World Can't Wait

Michael G. Bucci
New York, NY

Glen Burke
President, Veterans for Peace, Chapter 129, Pueblo, CO

Kim Carlyle
President, Veterans For Peace Chapter 099, Asheville, NC

Brad Cotton President, Chapter 923 Veterans for Peace, Circleville, Ohio

June Eisley
National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Wilmington, DE

Carol E. Gay Coordinator NJ Labor Against War

Michelle Grise Convener, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Kathleen Hernandez Board Member of Veterans For Peace, Los Angeles Chapter

Tarak Kauff
Maury Colow Chapter, Veterans For Peace, Woodstock NY

Bob Keilbach
Veterans For Peace—NY Chapter 34

Malachy Kilbride
Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Dawn Marcelle
Citizen for Peace

Paul O. Matherny
Columbus, OH

Don Muller
Sitkans [Alaska] for Peace and Justice Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Walt and Nancy Nygard
Veterans For Peace, Military Families Speak Out

Max Obuszewski
Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

John Oliver
Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter #105 Veterans for Peace

Jim Reill
War Resisters League—DE

Phillip Runkel
National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Milwaukee, WI

William H. Steen, Jr.
Pittsburgh, PA, Veterans for Peace (Chapter 047) US Navy 1981-9

Janie M. Stein and Martin A. Bates
Salina, Kansas People for Peace
Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

David Swanson
Cofounder of After Downing Street

Eve Tetaz
National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Washington, DC

Davide Thomas
Pittsburgh, PA

Rabbi Arthur Waskow
The Shalom Center

Jay Wenk
President Maury Colow Chapter, Veterans For Peace, Woodstock NY

Patricia Wheeler
Island Peace & Justice, Deer Isle, Maine


According to a spokesperson for this group of signatories, on Thursday, June 25, a number of people "plan to participate in an act of nonviolent civil resistance, again resisting arrest, is we are not granted a meeting [with the Attorney General or his representative] at that time." Those wishing to participate are asked to contact Joy First at jsfirst@tds.net or Malachy Kilbride at malachykilbride@yahoo.com.


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This story was published on May 17, 2009.