No Promotion for Torturers!

Oppose the nomination of torture leader Gina Haspel as CIA Director.  This is a crucial time to act — there is finally a debate about the U.S.’ post-9/11 torture program!

Suggested action steps:

1) Call Sen. Burr and Sen. Tillis to oppose Haspel’s confirmation.  Torturers should not be promoted!  Burr has expressed support for her; Tillis’ position is not yet public.

Burr:   (202) 224-3154,  Email:

Tillis:   (202) 224-6342,


2) Contact Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Stein.  Say the State of North Carolina can positively affect the national torture debate by facing up to our role in torture.  Cooper should make a public statement!  Stein should investigate.  It’s more important than ever to acknowledge our role and make sure it never happens again.  North Carolina-based Aero Contractors transported at least one prisoner to be tortured at the black site run by Gina Haspel.  Altogether, Aero transported at least 49 prisoners for the CIA to secret detention and torture.

Gov. Cooper

Jenni Owen — Policy Director, NC Office of the Governor

Phone:  (919) 814-2000


Twitter:  @NC_Governor

AG Stein

Jasmine S. McGhee — Director, Public Protection Section and Special Deputy Attorney General

Phone: (919) 716-6781


Twitter:  @NCAGO

3) Write a letter to the editor opposing Haspel’s nomination.  Make the point that transparency and accountability here in North Carolina can prevent future U.S. torture.

4) Donate to the NC Commission of Inquiry on Torture to push for transparency and accountability for North Carolina’s role in torture.



Gina Haspel, the Deputy CIA Director, has been nominated to head the agency.  She was one of the top two managers of the CIA’s interrogation and torture program when it was secretly detaining prisoners at overseas “black sites” and subjecting them to vicious beatings, repeated mock drowning, prolonged sleep deprivation, painful stress positions, prolonged nudity, threats to rape family members, confinement in small boxes, and more.

In 2002, Haspel ran the CIA’s black site in Thailand while prisoners were being tortured there.  She and Jose Rodriguez were the staunchest advocates for destroying the CIA’s video tapes of its Thai torture sessions.  She drafted the 2005 memo ordering this destruction of evidence, even though she and Rodriguez had been instructed to preserve the material as possible evidence in an investigation.

Torturers should get jail terms, not promotions!  It is an outrage that Gina Haspel, who as the ACLU says is “up to her eyeballs in torture,” should be promoted to the top job in the CIA.  Haspel’s torture record should be declassified and released to the public, along with the rest of the Senate Torture Report.

Aero Contractors of Smithfield, NC, flew at least 49 prisoners for the CIA, including at least 34 to and from the black sites.  This includes Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, whom it hauled to the Thai black site while Haspel was running it.  Al-Nashiri was kept naked and shackled, and was threatened with sodomy, and with the arrest and rape of his family. He was repeatedly waterboarded.

North Carolina is in a good position to oppose the promotion of torturers by leading the way in transparency and accountability.  The State of North Carolina should acknowledge its role in the torture overseen by Haspel.  The State should persuade Johnston County to investigate Aero Contractors and bar torture-related flights from Johnston County Airport or other public airports.

New York Times:

Alberto Mora:

Human Rights First Backgrounder:

Joseph Margulies:

Chris Anders, ACLU:

Annabelle Timsit:

Media Advisory: Citizens Will Tell Johnston County Commissioners:  Aero Contractors’ Role in Torture Larger Than Previously Known


For more information, contact:  Allyson Caison, 919-961-4130; Christina Cowger, 919-637-7678.

Citizens of Johnston and neighboring counties are putting local involvement in CIA torture and rendition back on the Commissioners agenda and demanding action. NC Stop Torture Now members will speak at the March 5 Johnston County Commissioners meeting, which begins at 6:00 pm in the Johnston County Courthouse in Smithfield, North Carolina.

Local citizens will bring new evidence that North Carolina played a larger role in the post-9/11 CIA kidnapping and torture program than previously presented to the Commissioners.  The information was revealed at the public hearings of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture in Raleigh on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2017.

New evidence shows that Aero Contractors participated in the CIA “extraordinary renditions” of at least 49 individuals, including over a quarter of the 119 prisoners identified by the Senate Intelligence Committee as having been held in CIA black sites.  Aero Contractors is headquartered at the Johnston County Airport and is the largest tenant there.

Between 2002 and 2006, Aero also stationed a key rendition aircraft at the state-run Global TransPark in Kinston.  Staging from Smithfield and Kinston, Aero flew 80% of all CIA rendition missions between September 2001 and March 2004, with frequent visits to CIA black sites in eastern Europe and Afghanistan.

“Our government has so far failed to acknowledge and take responsibility for the kidnap and torture of dozens of human beings,” said Allyson Caison, NCSTN co-founder and resident of Selma, North Carolina.  “We won’t let them forget these abuses; they are a stain on our state and on Johnston County.”

The International Criminal Court is considering whether to open a formal investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan, including secret detention and torture at CIA black sites.  If it does, extraordinary renditions performed by Aero Contractors would likely be investigated; two of the 49 people, Sharqawi Al Hajj and Guled Hassan Duran, are among the victims whose cases are before the ICC as it considers whether to take up the investigation.

The Johnston Commissioners will be asked to support the findings and recommendations of the NCCIT, which is investigating North Carolina’s role in the rendition and torture program. “It is past time for acknowledgement and action,” said NCSTN member Chuck Fager. “We need moral leadership from the Johnston County Commissioners in light of this new evidence.”


Join a vigil to protest President Trump’s planned order keeping Guantanamo open.  Indefinite detention without trial is an outrage; it is torture.

WHEN: Tuesday, Jan. 30, 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm

LOCATION: Terry Sanford Federal Building, 310 New Bern (corner of Person St. and New Bern), Raleigh, North Carolina

Activists rally in front of the White House demanding President Barack Obama close down the prison in Guantanamo Bay , April 11, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing


An executive order is reportedly being prepared for President Trump to sign that would reverse President Obama’s order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The order may be signed in the days surrounding his Jan. 30, 2018 State of the Union speech.

As the Center for Constitutional Rights says, “As some men enter their 17th year of detention without charge, and five continue to languish while being cleared for release, …It is fitting of Trump as an outlier that as he prepares to issue an order keeping open one of the most glaring symbols of U.S. torture, others in Europe are beginning to move forward with appropriate accountability.”

During the presidential campaign, President Trump promised to keep the Guantanamo Bay detention center open. In February 2016, he said he wanted to “load it up with bad dudes.” Last year, he considered sending a man to Guantanamo who rammed a truck into people in New York City.

According to a leaked State Department cable, the new order “affirms Guantanamo Bay will continue to remain open and serve as one of several options the United States maintains for the detention of terrorists.”

Trump plans to sign order keeping Gitmo open, leaked doc reveals (Politico)

Trump Administration Readies Draft Executive Order on Guantanamo Bay (Washington Post)

Guantanamo Attorneys Condemn Trump’s Planned Statement (Center for Constitutional Rights)

Organized by North Carolina Stop Torture Now

Report from “Close Guantanamo” in Washington DC

Joan Walsh, an anti-torture activist from North Carolina, with North Carolina Stop Torture Now, calls on Donald Trump to close Guantánamo at the annual rally outside the White House on January 11, 2018, the 16th anniversary of the opening of the prison. She was supporting the new Close Guantánamo initiative, counting how many days Guantánamo has been open — a shocking total of 5,845 days on the anniversary.  (From Close Guantanamo)   

Joan’s report follows:

NCSTN members Peggy Misch and Joan Walsh went to DC for the 16th-anniversary Close Guantánamo event this year.  The rally took place at 11:30 a.m. near the south end of Lafayette Square.  In prior years, this demonstration was held in the street, but since April 2017, the block of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House has been closed off.

Coalition members for the event included Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Close Guantánamo, CodePink, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Defending Rights and Dissent, the Justice for Muslims Collective, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, No More Guantánamos, Reprieve, September 11th Families for a Peaceful Tomorrows, the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, Veterans For Peace, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Witness Against Torture, and World Can’t Wait.

Approximately 250 to 300 people attended, more than in recent years.  Around 25, including Peggy, wore orange jump suits and hoods.  Many of the latter held placards reading “41,” the number of men still held at Guantánamo prison, five of whom have long been cleared for release.  Short speeches were followed by a “tea ceremony” in which jump-suited participants drank from cups, each labeled with a detainee’s name, then placed them in a row near the curb while that person’s name was read.  After that, five jump-suited participants, three women and two men, crossed the yellow tape along the curb and were arrested in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue.  Police began searching and processing them while the rest of us sang, and this continued for some time.  The arrestees were sitting in obvious discomfort on the far curb, and it appeared the police did not want to remove them until we dispersed.  The demonstration was disbanded at about 1:30.

Here is a link to Andy Worthington’s report of the event, including a short video of remarks from Mark Fallon, Pardiss Kebriaei of CCR, and Andy.

Peggy and Joan then attended a panel presentation held at New America, 740 15th St.  Speakers were Karen Greenberg, Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, Andy, and Tom Wilner, a lawyer who co-founded Close Guantánamo with Andy and currently represents a detainee at Guantánamo.  You can also view this 90-minute presentation at the above link; the video does not include the lively question/answer period that followed.  At least 100 people attended, and Andy noted the audience was much bigger than it had been in recent years.  All in all, it was a very worthwhile day.

Last but not least, that same day a new habeas petition was filed by CCR on behalf of 11 prisoners, two  of them among the five cleared.

Letters to NC officials needed to support first state-level inquiry into U.S. torture program

On Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2017, the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture held ground-breaking public hearings on our state’s role in the post-9/11 U.S. torture program.

To view the testimony, go to

Although they were invited, neither Governor Cooper nor Attorney General Stein testified or sent a representative to the hearings.

Write to Gov. Cooper and AG Stein, encouraging them to support the inquiry of the NCCIT. Only by knowing the full truth about our state’s involvement in torture can we take steps to right the wrong. Our public officials should get on the right side of history!

Here is a call for letters to the Governor and the Attorney General, and a sample letter with talking points.

Call for letters to Cooper & Stein_Jan. 2018


NCCIT on NPR The State of Things


Tune in to The State of Things on NPR, June 6th, from 12pm-1pm to hear the heartbreaking story of one survivor, Mohamedou Slahi and the work that is being done to uncover NC’s role in the torture program.

NCCIT Commissioner, Frank Goldsmith joins Slahi to talk about the past and the future. Learn more about Slahi’s story here.

for those who miss the noon show,The State of Things is rebroadcast evenings at 8 pm on WUNC in the Triangle NC market. The show will also be available as a podcast or download, usually the same day as the broadcast.

To learn more about the Commissioners or support the work of the NCCIT, visit

Update: The State of Things says the interview with Frank and Mohamedou ran long, and they will air at a future date to do it justice.

NCCIT begins work, gains news coverage

The The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture (NCCIT) had its formal launch with a conference call for media on March 15, 2017.  So far, here’s the coverage:

  • WUNC, The State of Things: New Commission to probe alleged NC connection in extraordinary rendition flights (listen)
  • AP national story (as seen in the New York Times, as well as the Houston Chronicle, the Charlotte Observer, and many other media): Citizens’ group aims to investigate CIA rendition program
  • Baptist Global news: Minister joins effort to address North Carolina’s role in torture
  • Independent (London): A major new inquiry has just been opened and it could reveal just how complicit the UK was in CIA torture
  • Raleigh News & Observer: New Commission to look into North Carolina’s role in torture program
  • Fayetteville Observer: Panel aims to shine light on state’s role in supporting torture

In addition, the News & Observer published this op-ed by NCCIT co-chair Frank Goldsmith.

Update: Added several new stories that have been published since this post originally appeared.

Keep Pressure on Burr

NC Stop Torture Now got a mention in the front-page of the October 1, 2016 edition of the Raleigh News & Observer article on Burr’s Intelligence Committee record:
  1. “NC Stop Torture Now, a group of faith and human rights activists in North Carolina, has even called Burr ‘one of the chief defenders of CIA abuses.’”
  2. “The sharpest rebuke of Burr came this year in a column, published in the Observer [and the N&O], by Larry Wilkerson, a retired U.S. Army colonel who was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.  By refusing to ‘come to grips’ with the torture program, Wilkerson wrote, Burr ‘ensures our real power in the world is diminished by the unpunished criminals in our midst.’”
Now’s the time to write letters to the editor bouncing off that article…Betsy Crites has an excellent example in the October 1, 2016 News & Observer!