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Torture is a Moral Issue A Presentation From The Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture.

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Presentation on theme: "Torture is a Moral Issue A Presentation From The Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture."— Presentation transcript:

1 Torture is a Moral Issue A Presentation From The Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture

2 Goals of Presentation To learn about US-sponsored torture To outline the legal basis against torture To discuss what you can do to stop torture

3 Convention Against Torture (Ratified by U.S. in 1994) The term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession

4 What do we want? End U.S.-sponsored torture End U.S. outsourcing of torture Close secret prisons and shut down Guantanamo and similar prisons Hold perpetrators and architects of torture accountable

5 TORTURE IS A MORAL ISSUE A Statement of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture “Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions hold dear. It degrades everyone involved -- policy-makers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation's most cherished ideals. Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable.”

6 Outlawed: Extraordinary Rendition, Torture and Disappearances in the “War on Terror” Produced in association with the ACLU, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, and other organizations

7 What if both people were guilty of terrorism—would that affect your view as to the treatment they endured? What would appropriate treatment of terrorism suspects look like? Is torture always wrong? Why or why not? The Film, Outlawed

8 Five Reasons Torture is Always Wrong Torture violates the dignity of the human being Torture mistreats the vulnerable and violates the demands of justice Authorizing torture gives government too much power—power corrupts Torture dehumanizes the torturer Torture erodes the character of the nation that tortures [From Christianity Today]

9 Torture is wrong not because it is illegal. It is illegal because it is wrong. Ray McGovern

10 The Military View Information obtained through torture is unreliable Torture puts military personnel at added risk Torture works against us in the fight for hearts and minds

11 Why Torture? Is it really about information?

12 Bush Administration: Geneva Conventions are “quaint” We need to “work through...the dark side.” Illegal combatants are not entitled to Geneva Conventions protections After 9/11, “the gloves came off” “Alternative” or “enhanced” interrogation techniques are used on detainees

13 Jonathan Yoo, former Deputy Associate Attorney General “Why is it so hard for people to understand that there is a category of behavior not covered by the legal system?... Historically, there are people so bad that they were not given protection of the laws...If you were an illegal combatant, you didn’t deserve the protection of the laws of war.”

14 Jonathan Yoo Congress doesn’t have the power to “tie the President’s hands in regard to torture as an interrogation technique... They can’t prevent the President from ordering torture.”

15 TORTURE AND U.S. LAW Constitution Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions (1949) Convention Against Torture (1994) McCain Amendment (2005) Hamden v. Rumsfeld case (2006) Military Commissions Act of 2006

16 Torture and U.S. Law, continued Bush Executive Order, June 2007 Supreme Court cases on habeas rights

17 The United States Constitution Amendment VIII Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

18 COMMON ARTICLE 3 of the Geneva Conventions “The following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to [detainees]…violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture…”

19 “Nobody in enemy hands can fall outside the law.” The International Committee of the Red Cross

20 Convention Against Torture Ratified by U.S. in 1994) No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

21 McCain Amendment* The amendment I will now offer... Would (1) establish the Army Field Manual as the uniform standard for the interrogation of Department of Defense detainees and (2) prohibit cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of persons in the detention of the U.S. government. * Amendment to the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005.

22 Administration Response to McCain Amendment President issues “signing statement” saying that he will not necessarily adhere to this law.

23 U. S. Supreme Court: [ Hamden vs Rumsfeld (2006)] The administration must adhere to the Geneva Conventions, specifically “common article number three.” Rules for treatment of combatants must be legislated by Congress.

24 Military Commissions Act Gives the President the power to apply broadly the label of "enemy combatant," and to limit the rights of those who bear that label. Subjects non-citizens, including legal residents of the United States and foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal.

25 Military Commissions Act Allows the President to decide secretly and unilaterally what abusive interrogation methods he considers permissible. Denies non-citizen detainees in U.S. custody the basic right to challenge their imprisonment, effectively permitting them to be held forever, with no access to the courts.

26 Military Commissions Act Limits the power of the courts to review this new system. Bars legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions. Permits coerced evidence—evidence obtained through abusive interrogations—to be used against a defendant. Creates a definition of torture that is unacceptably narrow and effectively eliminates rape as torture.

27 Military Commissions Act Provides retroactive immunity for U.S. officials for the torture and abuse of detainees, including the widely condemned horrors that occurred at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

28 George Hunsinger Princeton Theological Seminary Torture, once chosen, proliferates and corrupts everything and everyone it touches, profoundly and irreversibly. Torture undermines victim and torturer alike. It corrodes the society that permits it, destroying the rule of law and right. Corrupting the soul, it eventually corrupts everything in its path.

29 George Hunsinger Princeton Theological Seminary The Military Commissions Act represents this very corruption. The stripping of habeas corpus, the secret prisons, the indefinite detention, the arbitrary power to declare U.S. citizens as "unlawful enemy combatants," the admission of evidence obtained by abuse, the immunization of human rights violators from prosecution -- these and more compromise our commitment to the basic dignity of all human beings.”

30 Bush Executive Order on CIA Interrogations, July 2007 Authorizes the CIA to adopt a secret set of interrogation methods, including those banned for military interrogators under the new Army Field Manual.

31 Guantanamo Habeas History June, 2004: Supreme Court says Guantanamo prisoners have access to Federal courts (Rasul v. Bush) 2004: Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) are established by Bush administration to prevent court habeas hearings (allow secret evidence, hearsay, no counsel for prisoners, allow statements made under torture) 2005: Detainee Treatment Act passed, codifying CSRTs

32 Guantanamo Habeas History October, 2006: MCA passed Feb., 2007: Court of Appeals dismisses Guantanamo habeas petitions for lack of jurisdiction (due to MCA) Dec. 5, 2007: Appeal brought before Supreme Court, for spring 2008 decision (Al Odah vs. U.S. and Boumediene vs. Bush)

33 Habeas Cases—Detainees Want: The right to challenge the factual and legal basis of their imprisonment To challenge adequacy of CSRTs, that classified them as “unlawful enemy combatants” [See Center for Constitutional Rights Web site]

34 Recent News  Gov’t to try Guantanamo cases in “kangaroo courts” – argue for death  Mukasey admits water boarding occurred but won’t pursue any actions  Congress passes anti-torture legislation (H.R. 2082)—Bush threatens veto  Scalia weighs in on torture

35 Justice Scalia Comments “Justice Scalia would be ‘extraordinary’ to assume that the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment applied to ‘so-called’ torture in the face of imminent threat. [Scalia] said that the Constitution ‘is referring to punishment for crime.’ But ‘is it really so easy,’ he said, ‘to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the Constitution?’ “‘It would be absurd to say you couldn’t do that,’ the justice said. ‘And once you acknowledge that, we’re into a different game. How close does the threat have to be? And how severe can the infliction of pain be?’” “He added, ‘You can’t come in smugly and with great self-satisfaction and say, ‘Oh, it’s torture, and therefore it’s no good.’” Reuters, Feb. 13, 2008

36 George Hunsinger Princeton Theological Seminary “The MCA and similar policies demonstrate the uncanny corruption that is torture; for torture, once tolerated, is not easily contained. Torture... has become the ticking bomb at the heart of our democracy.”

37 What Should We Ask Congress to Do? Stop CIA “enhanced interrogation techniques”; close Guantanamo and all secret prisons; stop rendition for torture. Pass the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007, to roll back some of the more egregious parts of the MCA: S. 576 & H.R. 1415. Hold anyone who approved, ordered, aided or conducted torture accountable for their actions.

38 What You Can Do Visit and sign statement of Get your congregation to join WRRCAT and NRCAT—and become active Organize events at your congregation and hang a “torture is wrong” banner outside

39 “A time comes when silence is betrayal... We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision but we must speak. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness so close around us.” Martin Luther King Jr.

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