NORTH CAROLINA STOP TORTURE NOWPO Box 12707
Raleigh, NC 27605
(eveings and weekends, or messages during business hours)
People of Faith and Veterans Vigil in Winston-Salem, Urge Senator Burr to Support Release of Report on Detainee Treatment
According to reporting by the Winston-Salem Journal, "(m)ore than 20 people, including a former CIA officer, stood along First Street outside the Winston-Salem office of U.S. Sen. Richard Burr on Thursday, urging Burr to support the release of a critical report on the use of torture on terrorism suspects. Burr, a North Carolina Republican, is one of 15 members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. A vote is scheduled as early as February on whether to release part or all of the 6,000-page report, including a 300-page summary. Burr wasn’t in town Thursday, but a small delegation met with a member of his staff after the vigil."
Representatives from the North Carolina Council of Churches, Veterans for Peace, and Quaker House of Fayetteville joined North Carolina Stop Torture Now activists holding signs and engaging passers by.
“Torture is, first and foremost, a moral issue,” said Ray McGovern, a former CIA officer and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, who offered keynote remarks.
“Our nation needs to know what happened and how it happened,” said Stephen Newsom, co-director of the Quaker House in Fayetteville.
John Heuer, of the Eisenhower chapter of Veterans for Peace, reminded listeners of the cost of the U.S. torture program to those who dared resist it. In particular, he recalled Spc. Alyssa Peterson, one of the first female soldiers who died in Iraq. Peterson was a valuable Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at a U.S. air base in troubled Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq. She was also, at one time, a devout Mormon. According to a close friend, Peterson was deeply troubled by techniques she witnessed during two days of interrogations.
According to The Nation days ater Peterson protested the techniques she witnessed and was reassigned from that duty, Peterson took her own life. Peterson's friends and family are convinced that her experience in the interrogation unit contributed to her suicide.
Brenda Wills, President of Church Women United, board member of the NC Council of Churches, and a Winston-Salem resident also offered powerful remarks during a press conference held in conjuction with the vigil.
Allyson Caison, a founding member of NC Stop Torture Now spoke for the group, but also for herself, in remarks that emphasized her view that she has a special duty as a mother and a person of faith to speak out against the mistreatment and torture of U.S. detainees that relied heavily on aircraft headquartered minutes from her home in Johnston County.
Close Guantánamo Billboard Debuts in Johnston County
Jan 6 – North Carolina Stop Torture Now partnered with Veterans for Peace, CloseGitmo.net, and PopularResistance.org to sponsor placement of a 28-ft by 12-ft billboard just 4 miles east of I-95 on Hwy 70 in Johnston County, NC, shown at left, depicting two kneeling black hooded prisoners and urging the United States to: "Close Guantánamo!"
The billboard is the inspiration of graphic designer Ellen Davidson and her partner Tarak Kauff, an ex-paratrooper and national board member of Veterans For Peace, who, along with artist Paul Keskey from New Paltz, NY, designed and are promoting the billboards. They hope to see the billboards appear at sites in cities and towns across the country. Kauff last year completed a 58-day hunger strike reflecting his desire to see Guantánamo closed, the force feeding and other forms of torture stopped, and the prisoners, most of whom have been cleared for release, actually released.
2-4 p.m., Sunday, February 16, 2014
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, 3313 Wade Avenue
Help Us Raise $10,000 to Continue our Work.
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North Carolina Stop Torture Now
What will these funds help us do?
• We are part of a national campaign to gain public release of a still-secret – and by all accounts devastating – report on the CIA torture program by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Our own U.S. Senator Richard Burr sits on this committee.
In addition, we are in regular contact with survivors who were secretly rendered to torture in NC-based aircraft and have never received a word of acknowledgement, apology, or restitution from the U.S. government. Their lives were shattered. This national shame cannot be swept under the rug.
Retired Colonel Morris Davis Says U.S. Torture Policy Puts the Lives of Captured American Troops at Risk and May Have Created Terrorists
Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, a former prosecutor at Guantánamo Bay spoke at four venues in the Triangle and Johnston County. His talks, which highlighted the injustice of holding prisoners indefinitely and without charge was covered by The Smithfield Herald, The News & Observer and The Fayetteville Observer and Davis was interviewed on The State of Things a public-interest program on WUNC-FM 91.5.
As the Fayetteville Observer reported, Davis argued that torture does not elicit information that can be used in the court of law and said the practice has damaged the nation's image.
"We are not the shining city on the hill," he said. "If we're the country we claim to be, we've got to get back to the values we claim to represent. Regardless of whether it's illegal, it's immoral.
"War is hell. But the rule of law makes it a little less hellish," he added. Morris said the United States helped write the international rules that bar torture, but opened the door to "exceptions" during the George W. Bush presidency.
At every talk, Davis made the point that the military considers the Geneva Conventions its “bible,” and the U.S.’ abandonment of the rule of law has been opposed along the way by many in the Armed Forces and the JAG corps.
The Fayetteville Observer also noted that "Morris was critical of both the Bush and Obama presidencies, speaking against the use of drones to kill suspected terrorists and the failure to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba."
There is also a short video of Col. Davis reviewing the topics of his talk available.
Organizational and Individual Endorsements Sought
The next steps in seeking accountability for our state's role in extraordinary rendition have begun and your support is needed. Four members of North Carolina Stop Torture Now represent the group on the Organizing Committee for a North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture.
Details are here.
In a July 27, 2011 editorial titled: Honoring those who stood against torture the Los Angeles Times notes that:
Please get in touch if your organization recognizes the need for formal examination of North Carolina's role in extraordinary rendition and is ready to commit the time and energy of identified individuals to:
The task of building a broad coalition of organizations and opinion-leaders from around the state and among a diverstiy of political viewpoints, communities of faith, ethnic identity, and socio-economic strata will require sustained effort.
We are convinced, though, that working to achieve accountability is essential.
Our safety, our national ideals, and the integrity of the men and women who risk their lives to defend them depend on it.
Who We Are ...
North Carolina Stop Torture Now is a grassroots coalition of individuals representing themselves and—through their involvement and witness to neighbors—a diversity of faith, human rights, peace, veteran, and student groups across the state.
We are particularly concerned that state and local government officials and individual citizens recognize their own complicity in the extraordinary rendition program and take steps to provide restorative justice to victims and survivors, to air a full account of human rights violations, and to demand top-down accountability for the authors and perpetrators of these crimes.
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