Torture is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution and the Geneva Conventions (signed by the United States). But after the onset of the “war on terror,” the Bush administration crafted a legal justification for so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding and authorized the military to use these techniques to torture detainees.
The Sixth Amendment promises a speedy and public trial, and the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments guarantee due process to protect from arbitrary denial of life, liberty or property.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has produced a lengthy report, much of it classified, about the CIA’s torture program. While most of it has not been released publicly, the record is clear that US officials engaged in unlawful torture, yet the Obama Department of Justice has declined to pursue any criminal prosecutions. Failing to hold accountable those who authorized and committed torture not only sends the wrong message to the international community, it lays the foundation for future Administrations to engage in torture.
In January 2002, the first prisoners arrived at Guantánamo Bay Detention Center. Since then, there has been a systematic effort to deprive these detainees of even the most basic legal rights, and strand them in permanent legal no-man’s land.
On the last day of 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA contains provisions that could allow indefinite and arbitrary military detention, without a trial or day in court, of anyone accused of any “belligerent act” or terror-related offense—including “material support” allegations based strictly on speech or association. It essentially subjects everyone within the US (including citizens, legal residents, and visitors) to the same lawless standards at work in Guantánamo Bay.
The NDAA subjects these individuals to arbitrary detention without trial, denying the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process and Sixth Amendment rights to challenge evidence and confront one’s accusers. The NDAA also endangers First and Fourth Amendment rights, because the PATRIOT Act expanded the definition of “material support for terrorism” to include crimes of speech and association even by defendants who neither committed nor ever intended to support violence.
A delegation of activists, many clad in orange jumpsuits to represent the prisoners at Guantanamo delivered 60,000 signatures to Senator Feinstein on January 11, urging her to release the full Senate Torture Report. The petition delivery was coordinated with a “die-in” in the atrium of the Senate office building to protest Guantanamo.
January 11 Will Be A Very Busy Day. Join Us to Protest Gitmo, Deliver Petitions Demanding Release of the Torture Report, and to Protest Sessions & Pompeo!
January 11 marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. It also happens to be a day of important confirmation hearings, including those of torture apologists Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General, and Mike Pompeo to be CIA Director.
DHS is responsible for a number of areas where civil liberties are concerned. It oversees immigration enforcement, as well as, the US response to the border. DHS has been implicated in the monitoring of domestic social movements. It is therefore highly inappropriate that Kelly, given his background of human rights abuses and anti-civil libertarian views, would be named to head the DHS.