83 Human Rights Groups Tell Congress, “Take Action on Torture!”


The US CongressToday, 83 human rights groups and leaders sent the following petition to Congress calling for specific actions to end torture:

A Call for US Congress to Take Action on Torture

Whereas over seven years have passed since President George W. Bush fraudulently induced the US Congress, the American people, and the world into the illegal war in Iraq,

Whereas it is nearly five years since Specialist Darby revealed the photos of Abu Ghraib that showed us torture being committed by our government in our name,

Whereas further evidence of torture remains secret and has been hidden from the public, courts, and Congress to insulate the perpetrators from appropriate criminal liability,

Whereas over the past years we have campaigned about the illegality of this war and the need to prosecute the high-level civilian and military officials who put in place the torture,

Whereas, notwithstanding all the congressional hearings and reports so far on these matters, those officials have not been brought to justice,

Whereas a prosecutor has been appointed to address only a very small number, perhaps as few as three, of the crimes committed and none of the crimes “justified” by the clearly illegal torture memos,

Whereas the Department of Justice’s limited investigation of torture threatens to invite more torture around the world by undermining the Nuremberg precedent,

Whereas the Attorney General of the United States, under the influence of the President, appears unwilling to follow the facts about the illegal war in Iraq and torture to the full extent of the law,

Whereas we as citizens of the United States do not accept the damage to our country’s honor committed by these persons, the threats to the lives and well-being of our children and fellow citizens sent to illegal wars, and the transformation of our country from a beacon of liberty to a beacon of torture,


1. We call on Congress to start impeachment proceedings against Judge Jay Bybee of the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, as it is unconscionable that one who encouraged violations of such fundamental laws as those against torture and aggressive war be trusted to apply and shape the law.

2. We call on congressional committees to subpoena those responsible for aggressive war and torture, including former President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and other former senior officials complicit in war crimes; and to enforce those subpoenas through the Capitol Police, rather than the Department of Justice.

3. We call on state bar associations to begin the process of revoking the law licenses of those lawyers who put in place the legal analysis for the illegal war and the torture.

4. We call on state licensing authorities to begin the process of revoking the licenses of all other professionals who participated in the torture such as psychologists, psychiatrists and other doctors.

5. We call on the American people to contact their congressional representatives and insist that, on our watch, the high, who are the instigators of illegal wars and torture, will be brought low, and that low-level personnel will not be the only ones prosecuted for committing crimes authorized and encouraged by their superiors.

Robert H. Jackson Steering Committee
Action Center For Justice
After Downing Street
Backbone Campaign
Bend-Condega Friendship Project
Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law
Berkeley Fellowship Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Campus Antiwar Network, Ole Miss
Center for Constitutional Rights
Chelsea Neighbors United to End the War, New York City
Chesapeake Citizens
Christiane Brown, The Solution Zone, KJFK
Citizens For Legitimate Government
CODE PINK: Women for Peace
Code Pink Portland
Marjorie Cohn, Professor, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Collateral Repair Project
Consumers for Peace
Defending Dissent Foundation
Democracy for America – Tucson
Democracy for NYC
Democracy In Action (DIA)
Democratic Activist blog
Eastside FOR
The Enviro Show, WXOJ-LP/WMCB
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
High Road for Human Rights
Humanists for Peace
Instruments For Peace
Jobs For Afghans
Justice Through Music
Liberty Tree Foundation
The Make America Again Project
Media With Conscience
Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored
Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute
Nashville Peace Coalition
Nicole Sandler, RadioOrNot.com
NC Democrats Network
New York Metro Progressives
North Country Coalition for Justice and Peace
Northeast Impeachment Coalition
Oregon PeaceWorks
Peace & Justice Forums, Billings, Montana
The People’s Email Network
PoetsWest (Seattle)
Progressive Democrats of America
Progressives Democrats of New York, 14th CD
Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains
PDA/DFA Progressive Democracy South Jersey
Progressive Democrats Sonoma County
The Progressive magazine
Republicans For Impeachment
Reclaim The GOP
Sitkans for Peace and Justice
SUV Network (Seniors United for Victory)
Topanga Peace Alliance
Transylvanians for Peace of Brevard, NC
True Blue Network
Uncommon Thought Journal
Velvet Revolution
Veterans For Peace Chapter 099
Veterans For Peace Chicago Chapter 26
Voices of Conscience
Voters for Peace
War Crimes Times
War Criminals Watch
Washington for Impeachment
Hazel Weiser, Executive Director Society of American Law Teachers — SALT
Western North Carolina Stop Torture Now
Young Americans for Liberty at Ole Miss

Andy Worthington is a member of the Robert H. Jackson Steering Committee. For further information about the petition, contact David Swanson, and to sign up as a group or individual, visit the website here.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009, details about my film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed with Polly Nash, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

5 Responses

  1. the talking dog says...

    It’s a nice sentiment and all, but torture is now entrenched… embedded in the system. Even in the case of Binyam Mohammed and others suing the Jeppeson subsidiary of Boeing over its role in the torture rendition flights, the 9th Circuit court of Appeals– of which Jay Bybee is a judge, no less, has agreed to re-hear the Gov’t’s continued assertion of state secrets (Bybee recused himself!).

    On torture, we have slowly watched the debate shift to the extraordinarily dangerous yet wholly irrelevant question of the “effectiveness” as if this somehow justified a practice that civilized people’s have had a consensus was unacceptable barbarity for centuries… of course, that’s also what we used to think about habeas corpus in American law, I suppose. But I guess we should take the ticking time-bomb scenario to its logical conclusion, as flip the scenario as, we captured “Mohammed…” We THINK… heck… we’re SURE… he knows where there is a nuclear bomb hidden in mid-town Manhattan, though he denies it and won’t tell us. So, we torture him, and he doesn’t relent. So we torture his six year old daughter in front of him– to death, btw. He still won’t talk. So, we know that Mohammed’s home town in the Middle East– home to 50,000 people or so– is where his wife, other children and extended family are– we threaten to incinerate the town (after all, 50,000 people are a lot less than the millions to be killed in New York, right?) Still nothing… so we incinerate the town… DO. YOU. SEE. WHERE. THIS. IS. GOING?

    Finally, Mohammed makes a full confession, after which legions of FBI, CIA and Mossad agents are dispatched… and of course… find nothing… (because torture isn’t really “effective” and the “ticking bomb” scenario is wholly imaginary… but details…)

    Murder and genocide have ALSO been recognized as intolerable and barbarous acts never to be tolerated…

    But, you see, if we make “the stakes high enough” justification argument… then surely torture (or murdering a child, or incinerating a city…) IS JUSTIFIED, right? Never. EVER.

    Just saying.

    Best of luck to the anti-torture campaigners; we must all just beware that the ground seems to be shifting underneath our collective feet.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, TD. That, I think, is the most perceptive analysis I’ve seen of the dangers of believing that the “ticking time-bomb scenario” is real.

  3. Begum Akhtar, Cyril Almeida, Ayaz Amir, | Tea Break says...

    […] Akhtar, Cyril Almeida, Ayaz Amir, October 30th, 2009 // 83 Human Rights Groups Tell Congress, “Take Action on Torture!” By Andy Worthington on Guantanamo campaigns – Today, 83 human rights groups and leaders sent the […]

  4. connie nash says...

    So what more/better is available to do?

  5. connie nash says...

    Well? How about get word out to all NYC contacts or come yourselves if close? Vigil/Program with Well-known actors tomorrow, Monday from 6-7 in front of Brooklyn detention center where Fahad is – 500 Pearl St. Manhatten = Be On Time…Fahad’s parents to be there and possibly some well-known reporters…tell your favorite new york reporters or write this up yourself…for more events in NYC this week, go to my blogsite: http://www.oneheartforpeace.blogspot.com Includes ANDY and Tina who broke a big story at Bagram then there’s more in Berkely next week by World Can’t Wait and Berkeley Law Center…

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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