The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Amy E. Ferrer, Associate Director
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
(413) 582-0110

Thousands Demand Accountability for Torture

Hundreds of lawyers, teachers, health professionals, and interfaith religious leaders explain how lawlessness impacts their work


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 or call 413-582-0110.

Defending Rights & Dissent strengthens our participatory democracy by protecting the right to political expression. About the merger of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Defending Dissent Foundation In 2015, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) and the Defending Dissent Foundation agreed to merge to place both organizations and their respective supporters in an even stronger position to help restore constitutional rights eroded by executive agencies. While BORDC was established to fight the PATRIOT Act in the wake of its passage under the Bush administration, DDF was founded decades ago to fight the McCarthy-era witch hunt that targeted law-abiding Americans on the basis of their political beliefs. Both organizations are committed to popular constitutionalism, and work with grassroots Americans from all walks of life to help them raise their voices to confront the national security state.