Urge Congress to Investigate Detention

Legislative Action Message
FCNL: Urge Congress to Investigate Detention Policies (5/6/04)URGE CONGRESS TO INVESTIGATE DETENTION POLICIES: The recent reports, photos, and testimonies about abuses against Iraqi detainees by U.S. military personnel and private contractors are deeply troubling and indicative of broader, systemic failures of the war on terror. The U.S. cannot justify a war to oust an abusive dictator and then itself engage in acts of abuse and terror. Individuals at all levels of command associated with these terrible abuses must be prosecuted, and accountability must include those at the highest levels of command and civilian policymaking. Moreover, the policies of waging an endless, boundless war and undertaking sweeping detentions for intelligence-gathering purposes have created the conditions in which these types of atrocities occur. Congress must act to rectify these policy failures and hold the Administration accountable. ACTION: Please contact your members of Congress. Express your dismay and shame at the reports of abuses by U.S. personnel against Iraqi detainees and the growing pattern of human rights violations evident in the practice of mass detentions in the war on terror. Urge Congress to hold public hearings and pursue a full, transparent investigation into the situation of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and elsewhere in the war on terror. Such an investigation must also examine the role of policies surrounding the war on terror that have sanctioned mass detentions and created law free zones. CONTACTING YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IS EASY: Start with the sample letter posted in our Legislative Action Center, personalize the language, then email or fax your message directly from our site. You can also print it out and mail it. To view the sample letter click here, then enter your ZIP code and click Go in the Take Action Now box. BACKGROUND: In Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, and perhaps elsewhere, the U.S. has detained thousands of individuals, often without leveling official charges, without evidence of crimes or combatant status, without providing access to lawyers, and without allowing visitation by family members. Detainees are reported to range in age from 11 to 80, and the terrorist designation hangs over them all. Such policies violate the Geneva Conventions and create conditions that invite abuse and mistreatment of prisoners. People the world over, and particularly in the Arab world, are outraged by the reports and images of U.S. occupying troops humiliating and abusing Iraqis. The International Secretariat of the World Organization Against Torture, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture have all expressed grave concerns over the reports of torture, and cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners by U.S. forces. The Iraqi people continue to live in fear of night-time raids, the detention of family members without notice or information of their whereabouts, and violence perpetrated by occupying forces in military prisons like Abu Ghraib. U.S. troops may face a new wave of attacks by those seeking revenge. The Bush Administration has been slow to respond to reports of abuse of detainees, which have been raised for months by human rights organizations, military officials, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. President Bush did appear on Arab television in an attempt to reassure people in the region that the abuses being reported will not be tolerated and are not part of U.S. occupation policy in Iraq. However, the Administration appears to be treating the issue as only a matter of a few bad apples, rather than examining the policies and conditions that have led to egregious violations of human rights and human dignity in the U.S.s pursuit of the war on terror. Moreover, the Administration's veil of silence and secrecy over this incident belies its protest that the recent abuses come to light are a case of isolated incidents. Abuses during secret, indefinite detention have occurred not only at the Iraqi prison, but also in detention facilities in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and other secret military and CIA facilities, where reports of torture, use of "coercion" techniques, suicide attempts, and murder have also occurred. These abuses stem from a policy outside the law, concocted by policy-makers who behave as if they are above the law. The remedy is close at hand. It is waiting in the Geneva Conventions, in U.S. military regulations, in the U.S. Constitution, and in U.S. statutes. U.S. disregard for international law and human rights makes the world less safe, endangers U.S. troops and innocent civilians, and creates conditions that invite abuse. The practice of mass detentions and creation of law free zones in the name of fighting the war on terror and in violation of international law must end. Even as more reports of abuse and torture were surfacing, the White House told Congress it would seek another $25 billion in the coming weeks for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. RESOURCES: FCNLs letter to Congress on the recent reports of abuse is available here. Christian Peacemakers Team has followed the situation of detainees on the ground in Iraq since last year. Their January 2004 report documenting abuses and recommending changes to the system is available at http://www.cpt.org/iraq/detainee_summary_report.doc The Seymour Hersh article, Torture at Abu Ghraib," appearing in the New Yorker this week is available at http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/ Excerpts of the Abu Ghraib prison inquiry that was conducted by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba is available at http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/iraq/la-fg-excerpts3may03,1,7949871,print.story?coll=la-home-headlines (You may have to register for the Los Angeles Times) The Shame of Abu Ghraib by Col. Dan Smith, U.S. Army (Ret.) is available here.SUBSCRIBE or UPDATE OUR INFORMATION for this listserve. SUBSCRIBE to FCNLs specific issues listserves. UNSUBSCRIBE: Please click on the link at the end of this email to unsubscribe. Note: If you receive emails from multiple FCNL listserves you will need to unsubscribe yourself from each individual listserve. Every email you receive from FCNL has unsubscribe instructions at the end of the email.FCNLS PRIVACY POLICY: FCNL will not rent, sell, share, or trade your name to any other organization. CONTACTING LEGISLATORS
Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 Sen. ________
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510Rep. ________
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515Information on your members is available on FCNLs web site.CONTACTING THE ADMINISTRATION
White House Comment Desk: 202-456-1111
Fax: 202-456-2461
Email: president@whitehouse.gov
Web Page: http://www.whitehouse.gov/

President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20500 NEW FCNL PUBLICATIONS!

Help build a world free of nuclear weapons. Get your free "At the Crossroads" booklet or "U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policies" Perspectives Paper by visiting FCNL's Special Publications page, emailing field@fcnl.org, or by calling 800-630-1330. Order WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER bumper stickers and yard signs!

URGE CONGRESS TO INVESTIGATE DETENTION POLICIES: The recent reports, photos, and testimonies about abuses against Iraqi detainees by U.S. military personnel and private contractors are deeply troubling and indicative of broader, systemic failures of the war on terror. The U.S. cannot justify a war to oust an abusive dictator and then itself engage in acts of abuse and terror.

Individuals at all levels of command associated with these terrible abuses must be prosecuted, and accountability must include those at the highest levels of command and civilian policymaking.

Moreover, the policies of waging an endless, boundless war and undertaking sweeping detentions for intelligence-gathering purposes have created the conditions in which these types of atrocities occur. Congress must act to rectify these policy failures and hold the Administration accountable.

ACTION: Please contact your members of Congress. Express your dismay and shame at the reports of abuses by U.S. personnel against Iraqi detainees and the growing pattern of human rights violations evident in the practice of mass detentions in the war on terror. Urge Congress to hold public hearings and pursue a full, transparent investigation into the situation of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and elsewhere in the war on terror. Such an investigation must also examine the role of policies surrounding the war on terror that have sanctioned mass detentions and created law free zones.

CONTACTING YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IS EASY: Start with the sample letter posted in our Legislative Action Center, personalize the language, then email or fax your message directly from our site. You can also print it out and mail it. To view the sample letter click here, then enter your ZIP code and click Go in the Take Action Now box.

BACKGROUND: In Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, and perhaps elsewhere, the U.S. has detained thousands of individuals, often without leveling official charges, without evidence of crimes or combatant status, without providing access to lawyers, and without allowing visitation by family members. Detainees are reported to range in age from 11 to 80, and the terrorist designation hangs over them all. Such policies violate the Geneva Conventions and create conditions that invite abuse and mistreatment of prisoners.

People the world over, and particularly in the Arab world, are outraged by the reports and images of U.S. occupying troops humiliating and abusing Iraqis. The International Secretariat of the World Organization Against Torture, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture have all expressed grave concerns over the reports of torture, and cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners by U.S. forces. The Iraqi people continue to live in fear of night-time raids, the detention of family members without notice or information of their whereabouts, and violence perpetrated by occupying forces in military prisons like Abu Ghraib. U.S. troops may face a new wave of attacks by those seeking revenge.

The Bush Administration has been slow to respond to reports of abuse of detainees, which have been raised for months by human rights organizations, military officials, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. President Bush did appear on Arab television in an attempt to reassure people in the region that the abuses being reported will not be tolerated and are not part of U.S. occupation policy in Iraq. However, the Administration appears to be treating the issue as only a matter of a few bad apples, rather than examining the policies and conditions that have led to egregious violations of human rights and human dignity in the U.S.s pursuit of the war on terror.

Moreover, the Administration's veil of silence and secrecy over this incident belies its protest that the recent abuses come to light are a case of isolated incidents. Abuses during secret, indefinite detention have occurred not only at the Iraqi prison, but also in detention facilities in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and other secret military and CIA facilities, where reports of torture, use of "coercion" techniques, suicide attempts, and murder have also occurred. These abuses stem from a policy outside the law, concocted by policy-makers who behave as if they are above the law. The remedy is close at hand. It is waiting in the Geneva Conventions, in U.S. military regulations, in the U.S. Constitution, and in U.S. statutes.

U.S. disregard for international law and human rights makes the world less safe, endangers U.S. troops and innocent civilians, and creates conditions that invite abuse. The practice of mass detentions and creation of law free zones in the name of fighting the war on terror and in violation of international law must end.

Even as more reports of abuse and torture were surfacing, the White House told Congress it would seek another $25 billion in the coming weeks for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

RESOURCES: FCNLs letter to Congress on the recent reports of abuse is available here.

Christian Peacemakers Team has followed the situation of detainees on the ground in Iraq since last year. Their January 2004 report documenting abuses and recommending changes to the system is available at http://www.cpt.org/iraq/detainee_summary_report.doc

The Seymour Hersh article, Torture at Abu Ghraib," appearing in the New Yorker this week is available at http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/

Excerpts of the Abu Ghraib prison inquiry that was conducted by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba is available at http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/iraq/la-fg-excerpts3may03,1,7949871,print.story?coll=la-home-headlines (You may have to register for the Los Angeles Times)

The Shame of Abu Ghraib by Col. Dan Smith, U.S. Army (Ret.) is available here.

SUBSCRIBE or UPDATE OUR INFORMATION for this listserve.

SUBSCRIBE to FCNLs specific issues listserves.

UNSUBSCRIBE: Please click on the link at the end of this email to unsubscribe. Note: If you receive emails from multiple FCNL listserves you will need to unsubscribe yourself from each individual listserve. Every email you receive from FCNL has unsubscribe instructions at the end of the email.

FCNLS PRIVACY POLICY: FCNL will not rent, sell, share, or trade your name to any other organization.

CONTACTING LEGISLATORS
Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

Sen. ________
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Rep. ________
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Information on your members is available on FCNLs web site.

CONTACTING THE ADMINISTRATION
White House Comment Desk: 202-456-1111
Fax: 202-456-2461
Email: president@whitehouse.gov
Web Page: http://www.whitehouse.gov/

President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20500 NEW FCNL PUBLICATIONS!
Help build a world free of nuclear weapons. Get your free "At the Crossroads" booklet or "U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policies" Perspectives Paper by visiting FCNL's Special Publications page, emailing field@fcnl.org, or by calling 800-630-1330. Order WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER bumper stickers and yard signs!