ACTION ALERT: Sign the Declaration Against American Torture
January 6, 2005
ActForChange has teamed up with True Majority, MoveOn, Faithful America, Sojourners and Win Without War
Hearings on the appointment of Alberto Gonzales as US Attorney General will begin January 6. Serious questions remain regarding Gonzales' apparent advocacy of torture as a legitimate practice by US soldiers, government agents and contractors. The man who dismissed the Geneva Accords as "quaint" should be dismissed from consideration for this critical post.
ACTION ALERT: Sign the Declaration Against American Torture
Jennifer Willis / Act for Change
(January 4, 2005) -- Hearings on the appointment of Alberto Gonzales to attorney general of the United States will begin this Thursday, January 6. Serious questions still remain regarding Gonzales' apparent advocacy of torture as a legitimate practice by American soldiers, government agents and contractors.
ActForChange has teamed up with True Majority, MoveOn, Faithful America, Sojourners and Win Without War to call on Alberto Gonzales, nominee for chief law enforcement officer of the United States, members of the US Senate, and other responsible government officials, to sign a Declaration Against Torture, unequivocally renouncing all forms of torture and abuse as instruments of American policy.
The Attorney General is charged with protecting the civil liberties of every American, and the American public must be assured that the person who holds the job is up to that task.
Sign the petition to Gonzales and Congress
We call on Alberto Gonzales, nominee for chief law enforcement officer of the United States, members of the US Senate, and other responsible government officials, to sign the Declaration Against Torture, unequivocally renouncing all forms of torture and abuse as instruments of American policy.
Declaration Against Torture
Whereas torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment
• are contrary to the fundamental moral values on which the United States was founded,
• violate United States and international law,
• increase the risk to Americans serving abroad, and as Secretary of State Colin Powell warned "undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops,"
• weaken national security by inciting anti-American hatred, fanning the flames of terrorist recruitment, and providing comfort to America’s enemies,
• compromise the global fight against terrorism, by making foreign governments more reluctant to turn over suspected terrorists to the US,
• are an ineffective method of interrogation, as Attorney General John Ashcroft told the Senate: "I don't think it's productive."
We therefore unequivocally declare that the US must:
1. respect and enforce, across all agencies, and among all employees and contract agents of the US government, all obligations under the laws of war and duly ratified treaties that prohibit cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment;
2. state directly and forthrightly that torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment are always unacceptable and that all Americans who engage in such behavior or knowingly condone it will be punished;
3. accept the legal definitions of torture contained in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, as incorporated in the US Law of Land Warfare, banning "any ... form of coercion" or "unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment" to get information from prisoners of war; and in the international Convention Against Torture (1984), to which the US is party, prohibiting "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining … information;"
4. repudiate all claims of presidential power that allow for imprisoning or torturing anyone without due process,
5. halt the practice of "extraordinary rendition," by which some detainees and prisoners are transferred to nations that employ extremely brutal methods of torture.
Say No to Torture and No Alberto Gonzales
The MoveOn Team
(January 4, 2005) -- On Thursday, the Senate will consider Alberto Gonzales' nomination to become Attorney General. Gonzales is the White House counsel notorious for opening the door to torture at Abu Ghraib. Ask Gonzales and your Senators to renounce torture.
We hate to start the New Year with bad news, but on Thursday, the Senate will consider Alberto Gonzales' nomination to become Attorney General, replacing John Ashcroft. Gonzales is the White House counsel notorious for opening the door to torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons.
Senators should view the Gonzales nomination very skeptically, given this radical history. As part of the upcoming hearings, we're calling on Senators to ask Gonzales to unequivocally renounce torture as an instrument of American policy.
You can ask Gonzales and Senators to prohibit torture by clicking
We're working with a strong coalition -- including Amnesty International, FaithfulAmerica, TrueMajority, and Win Without War -- to ask Gonzales to sign our Declaration Against Torture. Gonzales should renounce his extreme and dangerous position, and reaffirm American respect for human dignity and the rule of law.
Gonzales' record is appalling. Prisoners of war from all nations have long been protected by the Geneva Conventions. In 2002, Gonzales wrote a memo to President Bush arguing the war on terror renders the Geneva Conventions "quaint" and "obsolete." (1)
His radical legal reasoning opened the door to the terrible abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. (2)
Even in light of this atrocity, Gonzales has never retracted or clarified what has come to be known as the secret "Torture Memo."
For more than a century, the US has opposed the torture of prisoners through the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture. American law prohibits torture, allowing no exceptions whatsoever. Gonzales' argument gives President Bush, as commander in chief, the authority to sidestep laws passed by Congress. In so doing, he replaced the traditional notion of checks and balances with a presidential power more akin to that of a king.
Torture isn't just immoral and illegal – it's a strategic mistake that makes us all less safe. Responding to Gonzales' torture memo, Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote that ignoring the Geneva Conventions will "undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops."
And by inciting anti-American hatred, torture bolsters the position of extremists and boosts terrorist recruitment, making the world less secure. Torture doesn't even work to find out about attacks before they happen, since people usually give falsified information to escape the pain.
As President Bush's chief legal adviser, Gonzales crafted means of evading the founding principle that the US is a nation of laws, not of men. His infamous "Torture Memo" paved the way to Abu Ghraib, robbing America of international respect. Together, we can demand Gonzales renounce torture if he wishes to uphold the law as Attorney General of the United States.
Sing the petition
1. Former Military Leaders Oppose Gonzales Nomination, Bloomberg News, January 3, 2005
2. Fresh Details Emerge on Harsh Methods at Guantanamo, New York Times, January 1, 2005
Bush Nominates Pro-torture Lawyer to become Attorney General
Duane Peterson / True Majority
President Bush has chosen his longtime lawyer Alberto Gonzales to be the next US Attorney General. It was Gonzales who advised Bush that the Geneva Conventions' prohibition on torture could be ignored — with reports of torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo soon following.
The US Senate, which will begin hearings on Gonzales' nomination January 6, should demand that Gonzales uphold American and international laws and renounce the use of torture.
To send a free message to your senators asking them to make sure Gonzales is questioned about his views on torture, just click "Reply" and "Send" in your e-mail program. If this e-mail was forwarded to you or you'd like to edit the message, just click this link:
A coalition of groups is working together to place an ad in the New York Times on January 6 (the first day of hearings) pressing Gonzales to renounce the use of torture..
We at TrueMajority along with many others are considering what issues to work on in light of the November 2 elections. TrueMajority members shared with us over 12,000 ideas (an analysis of which is forthcoming). But one immediate issue demands attention: America has crossed the line on torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. And Gonzales' nomination offers us the opportunity to reverse that.
America has opposed torture since its founding; the Constitution makes clear that cruel and unusual punishment is wrong and illegal. (i)
Expanding human rights here and abroad has been a consistent theme throughout American history. The US State Department publishes an authoritative annual report of every country's record on human rights.(ii)
But recently, Americans have begun to torture people.
Beyond being immoral and illegal, the use of torture is bad policy. The FBI opposes America's use of torture because it doesn't yield useful information, and has said so in dispatches from Iraq that disclosed the use of torture.(iii)
Military authorities oppose America's use of torture because other countries could throw it back at us to legitimize the torture of American soldiers taken prisoner.(iv)
Yet Gonzales told President Bush that the Geneva Conventions, agreed to by the world's governments regarding people captured during war, are "quaint" documents that the president needn't follow.(v)
The result of that official policy didn't involve "isolated occasions of abuse by some bad apples" — but systematic torture. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, America's current program "…whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual, and degrading treatment and a form of torture."(vi)
Gonzales' nomination hearings provide us an opportunity to reverse this policy. In considering him for the position of the nation's chief legal officer, the Senate should demand that he renounce the use of torture and commit to honoring American and international law in spirit and letter.
To help place an ad in the New York Times about this issue, click here:
Here's the letter we can send to your senators with two clicks.
It includes a Declaration Against Torture that TrueMajority, MoveOn.org and others are urging senators to adopt and present to Gonzales for his agreement:
Dear [your senator's name]:
I'm proud that America has always stood for human rights, from our Constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment to the State Department's annual report to the world on country violations. Yet President Bush has taken the advice of his lawyer that prisoners in American custody are not protected by the Geneva Conventions.
Torture is flatly immoral. It's bad policy too. The FBI has said information extracted from tortured prisoners is unreliable. Military authorities have said that approving Americans' use of torture would legitimize other countries torturing our prisoners of war. And it sends a terrible signal to the rest of the world.
I ask that you use the occasion of the confirmation hearings and floor vote on Alberto Gonzales to support the following declaration, and that you ask Mr. Gonzales to do the same in order to renounce the use of torture as American policy.
[Text to "Declaration Against Torture" follows]
(i) 8th Amendment to the US Constitution, 1791.
(ii) From the US State Department: "The protection of fundamental human rights was a foundation stone in the establishment of the United States over 200 years ago. Since then, a central goal of US foreign policy has been the promotion of respect for human rights, as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"The United States understands that the existence of human rights helps secure the peace, deter aggression, promote the rule of law, combat crime and corruption, strengthen democracies, and prevent humanitarian crises."
— See the Annual Report on Human Rights at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/hr/
(iii) "Newly Obtained FBI Records Call Defense Department’s Methods 'Torture'" at http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=17216&c=206
(iv) "Ex-Military Lawyers Object to Bush Cabinet Nominee," New York Times, 12/16/05
(v) An analysis of the legal maneuvering that led to the torture doctrine is at http://lawofwar.org/Torture_Memos_analysis.htm . Gonzales’ actual memo is at http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4999148/site/newsweek/
(vi) "Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guantanamo," New York Times, 11/30/04