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.
Fifteen human rights organizations today wrote to the House of Representatives to urge a No vote on HR 5351, which would impose a full ban on all transfers of detainees out of Guantanamo prison camp.
The House of Representatives will vote this week on a bill that will prevent President Obama from transferring any more men (even those cleared of any crime) out of Guantanamo Bay military prison.
Murray, who was forced out of the British public service after he exposed the use of torture by Britain’s Uzbek allies is scheduled to speak at the World Beyond War conference in September, and present an award to CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou.
Chelsea Manning is back in the news again: now the US military is attempting to punish her–by forcing her to spend potentially decades in solitary confinement–for attempting to take her own life.
Have you ever wondered how the Cuban people feel about the presence of the Guantanamo Bay Prison on their island?