January 13, 2008
Center for Constitutional Rights
The inauguration is almost upon us, and I am writing you with two important related matters. The first is a call to action to phone your senators with questions for Eric Holder’s hearing on his nomination to be the next Attorney General. The second is to send you a link to a report we released yesterday on the simple steps to closing Guantánamo.
While President-Elect Obama has said he will close the base,he has yet to say how or when, which are the most important questions. We are all excited at the chance for a new beginning: it is up to us to make it one we can be proud of. Please call your senators, and please download and distribute our report so we can end this terrible chapter in our history.
I. This Thursday, January 15th, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to decide whether nominee Eric Holder should be confirmed as the new Attorney General. While Holder’s public statements suggest he would be a marked improvement over Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mukasey, it is critical that the American public be certain that our nation’s chief lawyer has an unwavering commitment to upholding the rule of law.
Senate Judiciary Committee members have a serious responsibility to put an end to subverting law to politics – and to ensure that President-Elect Obama appoints an Attorney General who will help him restore, protect and expand our human rights. And it is our responsibility to make our voices heard and stand against torture, racial profiling and other violations of human rights.
Please call the Senate Judiciary Committee members today and tell them that we need Eric Holder to make a clear statement against torture and racial profiling. Phone numbers are provided below. It will only take a few minutes to urge them to ask these two critical questions:
- Are you, unlike your predecessor, willing to acknowledge under oath what U.S. military and civilian courts have recognized for over 100 years: that waterboarding is torture and therefore criminal? If so, will you fulfill your duty to ensure that justice and the rule of law apply to all by appointing a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute those who have used, ordered, and authorized the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture?
- The most recent Attorney General’s Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations allow the FBI to begin an assessment without indication that a crime has been committed or is being planned. These guidelines grant the FBI authority to investigate individuals solely on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, or political belief, opening the door for racial profiling and persecution of political dissidents. As Attorney General, would you revoke these guidelines and communicate clearly to the public and to the FBI that no domestic investigations shall be performed without any indication of criminal activity?
II. January 11, 2009 marked the seventh anniversary of the arrival
of the first prisoners to Guantánamo Bay Naval Base. Despite
three Supreme Court decisions upholding the rights of Guantánamo’s detainees,
250 men remain at Guantánamo, including more than 150 who will not be
charged and should be released to their home countries and 60 men who
cannot return to their home countries due to fear of torture or persecution.
Court proceedings continue, but have not led to freedom for most of the
President-elect Barack Obama has pledged repeatedly to close Guantánamo, and many reports have called it a priority for the next administration. However, closing Guantánamo must be – and can be – done quickly and in a way that protects human and constitutional rights.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, the legal organization that has coordinated the representation of the detainees at Guantánamo since 2002, released a new report yesterday that makes clear that, in fact, closing Guantánamo is easy. It lays out three simple steps:
- send those who can go home home,
- secure safe haven for those who cannot, and
- charge those who can be charged then try them in ordinary federal criminal court.
Dispelling myths and providing concrete facts, the report answers the questions about closing Guantánamo and provides a path forward rejecting arbitrary detention, unconstitutional practices, and any systems of so-called ‘preventive detention’ or ‘national security courts’.
Please download the report and share it with colleagues, friends and policy makers. CCR’s unique perspective gained through years of experience representing detainees and on the front lines in the courts provides much-needed information for legislators, journalists and all others concerned with closing the horrific chapter known as Guantánamo and providing a vision for the future firmly anchored in law, justice, human rights and the Constitution.
I would also like to share with you news that our longtime allies at Witness Against Torture are launching a 100 Days campaign to shut down Guantánamo and end torture. Their campaign, which we endorse, began with a nine-day fast for justice that started on January 11 and will continue until the inauguration. Nearly 100 people are participating to call on President-Elect Obama to keep his promise to shut down Guantánamo quickly and end torture during his first days of office. For the first fifteen weeks of the new administration, Witness will maintain a daily presence in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. Participants will also lobby on Capitol Hill, hold educational and cultural events, and organize creative actions. For more information and a schedule of events, please visit their website at 100DaysCampaign.org.
For the Holder confirmation hearing, if you are not represented by a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, then call the committee staff directly at (202) 224-7703.
If you are a constituent of any of the following senators, please call the senators’ staffers at the numbers provided:
- Patrick Leahy (D-VT) – (202) 224-7703
- Edward Kennedy (D-MA) – (202) 224-7878
- Herb Kohl (D-WI) – (202) – 224-3406
- Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) – (202) 228-3841
- Russell Feingold (D-WI) – (202) 224-5573
- Charles Schumer (D-NY) – (202) 224-6542
- Richard Durbin (D-IL) – (202) 224-2152
- Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) – (202) 224-4524
- Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI ) – (202)
- Arlen Specter (R-PA) – (202) 224-5225
- Orrin Hatch (R-UT) – (202) 224-5251
- Charles Grassley (R-IA) – (202) 224-3744
- Jon Kyl (R-AZ) – (202) 224-4521
- Jeff Sessions (R-AL) – (202) 224-4124
(ask to speak with Matt Miner)
- Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – (202) 224-5972
- John Cornyn (R-TX) – (202) 224-2934
- Sam Brownback (R-KS) – ( 202) 224-6521
- Tom Coburn (R-OK) – (202 ) 224-5754