For Immediate Release
Thousands Demand Accountability for Torture
Hundreds of lawyers, teachers, health professionals, and interfaith religious leaders explain how lawlessness impacts their work
NORTHHAMPTION, Mass. - Yesterday, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC)
sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as members of the Senate
Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, a series of letters on behalf of concerned Americans
seeking restoration of the rule of law. More than 4,000 individuals
from all 50 states raised their voices to demand an independent
investigation-and if warranted, prosecution-of former officials
responsible for torture.
BORDC has submitted these
letters to the Attorney General Holder and Congress shortly before
Torture Accountability Action Day (June 25) and the UN International
Day in Support of Victims of Torture (June 26), for which the
organization has also published an online calendar of anti-torture and pro-accountability events across the country.
Shahid Buttar, Executive Director of BORDC said, "The Justice
Department's reluctance to prosecute former officials who enabled
torture imposes real costs on teachers, people of faith and legal and
health professionals-all of whom have joined together to implore the
Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor." According to Chip
Pitts, President of BORDC's Board of Directors, "Until our government
prosecutes the officials who enabled torture, law-abiding Americans
will remain victimized by the other threats to our constitutional
values, like preventive detention and warrantless spying."
The 4,000 individuals who wrote to the Attorney General and Congress joined either a general letter
open to all signers, or one of four letters presenting the unique
perspectives of educators, legal professionals, health professionals,
and people of faith:
- More than 400 educators
have voiced concerns about their educational mandate: "Young people are
smarter than many adults think, and the preferential treatment of
senior officials who commit heinous crimes-relative to the
school-to-prison pipeline that ensnares many of their peers for
relatively innocuous misbehavior-does not escape their attention."
- According to more than 200 lawyers,
"The severity of systemic disadvantages in the criminal process grows
more disturbing-and the system's legitimacy grows less secure-when
violations of our nation's most fundamental commitments carry no
consequences for potential criminals who wield political influence."
- More than 100 faith leaders
from a wide variety of traditions suggested that "[j]ust as our beliefs
lead us to condemn crimes against all, including the 'least' of
humankind, so also do they lead us to demand accountability of all,
including those who hold themselves to be humankind's ‘greatest.'"
- More than 100 health professionals
observed that "[e]fforts within our professions to hold our members
accountable for their role in torture are part of the solution, but do
not complete it....Until our nation investigates and prosecutes those
responsible for torturing detainees, the future use of torture will
remain a risk facing our nation, our professions, and their respective
Formed in 2001 after the
passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee is
a national organization defending constitutional rights and civil
liberties violated by "war on terror" policies. BORDC's mission is to
promote, organize, and support a diverse, effective, national
grassroots movement to restore and protect civil rights and liberties
guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. For information, please visit www.bordc.org or call 413-582-0110.
BORDC's mission is to promote, organize, and support a diverse, effective, national grassroots movement to restore and protect civil rights and liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Our purpose is to educate people about the significance of those rights in our lives; to encourage widespread civic participation; and to cultivate and share the organizing tools and strategies needed for people to convert their concern, outrage, and fear into debate and action to restore Bill of Rights protections.