Rights Groups Ask Government For Proof That Detainees in U.S. Custody Are Not Being Tortured
Editor's Note: This story has been adapted from a press release jointly issued by the rights groups mentioned in it.
WASHINGTON, October 7, 2003-Citing news reports that the United States government may have tortured detainees or subjected them to "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and medical and veterans' groups today asked agency officials for proof that that the US is honoring its obligations under domestic and international law.
"The government's blanket assurances that it is not engaging in torture or illegal interrogations, while welcome, are not enough," said Amrit Singh, a staff attorney with the ACLU. "Those assurances have failed to address numerous reports documenting the torture of individuals held in U.S. custody. We are asking for records that will demonstrate whether the government is in fact complying with its obligations under domestic and international law."
In January 2003, after the release of news accounts about abuses of detainees, President Bush issued a statement saying that the United States "is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example."
Today's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request-the first of its kind to address torture-seeks details on just how the Bush Administration is "leading this fight." The ACLU and CCR filed the request on behalf of their organizations as well as Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Peace and Veterans for Common Sense.
The groups are seeking documentation on the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody-including two men who died-as well as on detainees who were handed over by the US to countries known to employ torture against those in their custody. The request cited numerous credible news reports suggesting that the maltreatment of detainees "may be accepted and even encouraged by senior officials."
"These reports, if true, could severely undermine the credibility of American efforts to combat torture and promote the rule of law," said Steven Watt, a CCR attorney. "It is imperative that the government gives a proper accounting for its actions. This is the whole purpose of our request today."
Veterans groups joining today's action expressed concern that US-condoned torture could be used to justify mistreatment of American troops by enemy powers.
"It is of vital interest to military men and women all over the world that the protections against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment be even-handedly applied by all nations at all times," said Wilson "Woody" Powell, Executive Director of Veterans For Peace, an organization whose members served the United States in conflicts from World War II through Gulf War I.
Medical groups also expressed concern about the US engaging in torture. "In addition to the tremendously damaging physical and psychological consequences of torture, it is a notoriously unreliable method of obtaining information; victims frequently confess to whatever their torturers want to hear," said Leonard Rubenstein, Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights. The group was the principal organizer of the United Nations international guidelines for documentation of torture and its consequences.
Today's action came as the ACLU prepared to launch a new campaign to bring internationally recognized human rights law to the American justice system. At a conference taking place October 9-11 at the Carter Center in Atlanta, the ACLU will hold workshops to help lawyers and others develop legal and organizing strategies for enforcing human rights in such areas as criminal justice, economic justice, the rights of non-citizens and women's rights. Today's FOIA request is an example of such strategies, the ACLU said.
For more information on the conference, go here. Registration for the event is already closed.
Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
This story was published on October 10, 2003.
Local Stories, Events
Ref. : Civic Events
Ref. : Arts & Education Events
Ref. : Public Service Notices
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
02.16 Toxic black snow covers Siberian coalmining region [0:49 video; If its killing us, stop doing it]
02.16 Renewable energy will be world's main power source by 2040, says BP [But in America's capitalistic bubble, bribed-to-be-biased media and government defy reality]
02.16 What the pesticides in our urine tell us about organic food [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]
02.14 Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence [If its killing us, make it illegal]
02.14 To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change [Consider why this headline is laughable or confusing to many, if not most, Americans...]02.13 Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet [2:10 video; Produce and canned vegetables laced with toxic chemicals—from fertilizers and herbicides, too—must be quickly phased out to use safe organic alternatives]
02.11 'People Shouldn't Be Going Bankrupt and Dying': Nationwide Week of Action Aims to Build Mass Movement Behind Medicare for All [Corporate control of government and media must be limited to allow efficient programs for the public good]
02.09 The potato solution: how the Guardian switched to biodegradable packaging [Non-recyclable products should be illegal]
News Media Matters
02.16 We Shouldn't Stick Our Heads In The Sand, But We Do It Anyway [26:46 audio; Fear like Trump & Fox News incite makes us avoid unpleasant information we need to know]
02.15 Samantha Bee: Fox News 'soiling themselves over the Green New Deal' [video clips from Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert]
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
02.16 ‘A Parkland every five days’: project tells stories of the children lost to gun violence [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]
02.16 Rambling Trump calls an emergency in speech that goes on and on and on [1:42 video; an incoherent president just paraphrases lies and distortion from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh...]
02.16 Calling Emergency Declaration a 'Patently Illegal Power Grab,' ACLU Sues Trump [Empathy and fairness are scarce when your President is a psychopath]
02.15 Jayapal Says Medicare for All Bill Coming in Two Weeks as Expert Calls Plan 'Astonishingly Strong' [Corporate control of government and media must be limited to allow efficient programs for the public good]
02.14 Pentagon Fears Climate Crisis, w/ Billions in Damage to US Bases & Societal Upheaval [In maniacally twisted capitalist countries inconvenient truths are ignored or harshly ridiculed, and Trump's stupid Wall obsession dominates the news instead.]
Economics & Corrupting-Capitalism
02.13 The Green New Deal offers radical environmental and economic change [For the survival of life on earth, capitalism must be effectively regulated or banned]
02.12 Climate and economic risks 'threaten 2008-style systemic collapse' [Willfull ignorance of Trump, Republicans, corporate-media and corporate-Democrats is steadfast, if not worsening]
02.11 Trump offers socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else [and the poor will die out like the insects]
International & Futurism
02.15 Who Is Really A Socialist? [Who is really a Republican, etc.?]
02.14 House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen [Congress does something good again!]
02.14 Millions Flowed From Venezuelan Oil Firm to Small Bulgarian Bank [Transactions like Manafort performed for Trump. Which Venezuelan political leader is likely behind this—Maduro or Trump-supported Guaidó?]