June 23, 2009
Thousands Demand Accountability for Torture
Hundreds of lawyers, teachers, health professionals, and interfaith religious leaders explain how lawlessness impacts their work
Amy E. Ferrer, Associate Director
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Northampton, MA - Today, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as members of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, a series of letters on behalf of concerned Americans seeking restoration of the rule of law. More than 4,000 individuals from all 50 states raised their voices to demand an independent investigation—and if warranted, prosecution—of former officials responsible for torture.
BORDC has submitted these letters to the Attorney General Holder and Congress shortly before Torture Accountability Action Day (June 25) and the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (June 26), for which the organization has also published an online calendar of anti-torture and pro-accountability events across the country.
Shahid Buttar, Executive Director of BORDC said, “The Justice Department’s reluctance to prosecute former officials who enabled torture imposes real costs on teachers, people of faith and legal and health professionals—all of whom have joined together to implore the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor.” According to Chip Pitts, President of BORDC’s Board of Directors, “Until our government prosecutes the officials who enabled torture, law-abiding Americans will remain victimized by the other threats to our constitutional values, like preventive detention and warrantless spying.”
The 4,000 individuals who wrote to the Attorney General and Congress joined either a general letter open to all signers, or one of four letters presenting the unique perspectives of educators, legal professionals, health professionals, and people of faith:
- More than 400 educators have voiced concerns about their educational mandate: “Young people are smarter than many adults think, and the preferential treatment of senior officials who commit heinous crimes—relative to the school-to-prison pipeline that ensnares many of their peers for relatively innocuous misbehavior—does not escape their attention.”
- According to more than 200 lawyers, "The severity of systemic disadvantages in the criminal process grows more disturbing—and the system’s legitimacy grows less secure—when violations of our nation’s most fundamental commitments carry no consequences for potential criminals who wield political influence."
- More than 100 faith leaders from a wide variety of traditions suggested that “[j]ust as our beliefs lead us to condemn crimes against all, including the 'least' of humankind, so also do they lead us to demand accountability of all, including those who hold themselves to be humankind’s ‘greatest.’”
- More than 100 health professionals observed that “[e]fforts within our professions to hold our members accountable for their role in torture are part of the solution, but do not complete it....Until our nation investigates and prosecutes those responsible for torturing detainees, the future use of torture will remain a risk facing our nation, our professions, and their respective values.”
Formed in 2001 after the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee is a national organization defending constitutional rights and civil liberties violated by “war on terror” policies. BORDC’s mission is to promote, organize, and support a diverse, effective, national grassroots movement to restore and protect civil rights and liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. For information, please visit www.bordc.org or call 413-582-0110.
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