Amnesty International USA:
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Amnesty International's new flash video and help build momentum for an independent commission and the appointment of a special
counsel to fully investigate abuses in Guantánamo, Afghanistan and other detention camps around the world and to hold perpetrators
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Ask Congress to Establish an Independent Commission and to Call for a Special Counsel
The U.S. government has failed to conduct a truly independent investigation into the abuses at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and
other detention centers. Only enlisted soldiers and a few officers have been prosecuted, while those who designed and authorized
a government policy of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment have not been held to account.
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The refusal of the U.S. government to conduct a truly independent investigation into the abuses at Guantanamo,
Abu Ghraib, and other detention centers is unacceptable. It’s a failure of leadership to prosecute only enlisted soldiers
and a few officers, while apparently protecting those who designed and authorized a deliberate government policy of torture,
inhuman or degrading treatment. An independent and impartial investigation must hold accountable anyone responsible for this
scandal, including senior officials in the Bush Administration.
Congress must appoint an impartial and independent
commission to investigate the human rights abuses at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other detention centers. Attorney General
Gonzales must appoint an independent Special Counsel to conduct criminal investigations of administration officials, including
himself, who are suspected of having authorized or condoned these abuses or had command responsibility for them.
Amnesty International report entitled “USA: Human dignity denied: Torture and accountability in the ‘war on terror’”
catalogues the United States’ three-year descent into the use of torture and warns that without a comprehensive, independent
investigation into the United States’ torture and ill-treatment of detainees, the conditions remain for further abuses
Based on an analysis of relevant policy decisions and specific incidents of abuse, the report cites more
than 65 specific recommendations that, if implemented by the US government, would provide substantial safeguards against further
torture and abuse. Among these is a call on President Bush to make public and revoke any measures or directives that have
been authorized by him or any other official that could be interpreted as authorizing “disappearances,” torture
or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or extrajudicial executions.
The report was released to mark the six month
anniversary of CBS News’ first broadcast of the photographs of torture at Abu Ghraib. Research by Amnesty International
suggests that these are not isolated incidents, but rather evidence of a systemic failure to protect the rights of detainees
in accordance with international law. Amnesty International has received frequent reports of torture or other ill-treatment
from released detainees who were held in US-run facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and elsewhere. Detainees have
told Amnesty International that they were tortured and ill-treated by US and UK troops during interrogation. Methods often
reported include prolonged sleep deprivation; beatings; prolonged restraint in painful positions, sometimes combined with
exposure to loud music; prolonged hooding; and exposure to bright lights. Virtually none of the allegations of torture or
ill-treatment has been adequately investigated by the authorities.
Amnesty International recently issued a follow up
report entitled “Guantanamo and beyond: The continuing pursuit of unchecked executive power,” that documented
the US government’s continuing refusal to conduct an independent, transparent investigation. To the contrary, critical
information remains classified, and the administration continues to assert the right to act unilaterally without being bound
by the rule of law. The administration has criticized the courts when they issue decisions that assert checks on the power
of the executive branch. The administration also appears to apply one standard of behavior for other countries, and a much
more lenient standard for itself. In the state Department’s annual country reports on human rights, the State Department
lists interrogation techniques such as stress positions, the use of dogs and sleep deprivation as examples of torture and
other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment when it occurs in other nations. Yet when the Secretary of Defense approves those
same techniques for use on detainees in Guantanamo, the government responds by saying those techniques do not constitute torture
if used properly. Amnesty International believes that there is no proper place for those techniques in interrogations, regardless
of which country seeks to employ them.
Recently, the US government attacked Amnesty International for drawing attention
to the US human rights record. High level administration officials have called Amnesty International absurd and irresponsible,
claiming that the organization was relying to heavily on the statements of released detainees that are trained to peddle lies.
It is worth noting that the administration has sited Amnesty International reports on Cuba and Iraq as credible reports by
and independent human rights organizations. The recent string of verbal attacks seems to belie the same double standard that
the US has applied to it’s own human rights record.
Amnesty International continues to call for a thorough and
impartial investigation into torture and other abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and elsewhere, and for assurances
that those who perpetrated crimes and those who contributed to a command climate that facilitated crimes are brought to justice.
Amnesty International seeks the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry consisting of experts who would examine
– up the chain of command – US interrogation practices in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and elsewhere. Hearings
and findings should be made public. Amnesty International also calls for the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate
the reports of abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison and other detention facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and elsewhere;
to establish whether acts of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other violations of relevant federal statutes
have been committed; and to seek prosecution of those who perpetrated crimes and those up the chain of command responsible
for creating a climate that facilitated such crimes. Within the US justice system, the Special Counsel is the most independent
mechanism for conducting an investigation and prosecution.
We strongly encourage you to add your own thoughts to the message below:
June 09, 2005
Your U.S. senators
Your U.S. representative
U.S. government must call for a truly independent investigation into the abuses at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and other secret
detention centers. It is a failure of leadership to prosecute only enlisted soldiers and a few officers and not holding to
account those who designed a government policy of torture and authorized interrogation techniques that constitute torture
or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. A credible investigation must examine the top of the military and civilian chain
Congress must establish an impartial and independent commission to investigate the human rights violations
at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and other detention centers. Congress must urge Attorney General Gonzales to appoint an independent
Special Counsel to conduct criminal investigations into administration officials, including himself, who are suspected of
having authorized or condoned these abuses or had command responsibility for them.
Please let me know where you stand
on setting up an independent commission and calling for the appointment of a Special Counsel.
You can sign this letter on the original website:
Amnesty International USA: