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Capitol Hill Briefing By Torture Experts & Victims


(Washington, DC) On Wednesday, September 27, from 2:00 - 5:30 pm at
Capitol Building room H-6, Rep. Cynthia McKinney will host a briefing for staff and members into the history, experimentation, techniques, training, exporting and use of torture by U.S. government in past covert operations abroad and in current operations during the war on terrorism, as well as attempts to make torture, cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners legal and to grant immunity to those who use it.

Panel 1 ­ 2:00 ­ 3:45

Prof. Alfred McCoy, Ph.D., author of A Question of Torture
Tara McKelvey, American Prospect magazine editor, ACLU plaintiff in NSA suit
Jennifer Harbury, Atty., Torture Abolition Survivor & Support Coalition
Hina Shamsi, Human Rights First, Law & Security Program
Elizabeth Alexander, National Prisoner Project, ACLU

Panel II ­ 3:45 ­ 5:30

Dr. Juan Romagoza, Central American torture victim
Michael Ratner, Atty., Center for Constitutional Rights
Joey Mogul, Atty., Chicago attorney, police torture of African Americans
Col. Ann Wright, Military whistleblower and diplomat

Our speakers will cover a range of topics we want that have arisen since 9/11 as well as current legislative efforts to legitimize its use, including:

* Historical development of specific techniques by both Army and CIA operations, which were visible at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and throughout covert operations in Central America.

* History of US experimentation with, use, training, exporting, funding and direct supervision of torture since the end of WWII.

* The flawed logic of those who support the use of torture, even in "ticking time-bomb" scenarios, including recent legislation on these issues as well as attempts to secretly revise the Army Field Manual rules on interrogations.

* Abandonment of Geneva Convention and international standards in relation to covert operations and the war on terror, the creation of a dual legal system that allows abuses, and the effective legal immunity for torture in US courts, despite the existence of laws that ban and punish it.

* US-run secret renditions and secret prisons documented by the Council of

* Europe, and the treatment of ³enemy combatants² in detention at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and elsewhere, including the role of military medical personnel in these procedures.

* The use of torture in US prisons, jails and military brigs, and the transfer of these practices to and from military combat situations, including the findings of the UN Commission on Human Rights about US activities.

* The role of the new military commissions and interrogation detention encouraging these abuses, including the legal and Constitutional issues currently being debated and decided in the courts.

* We will also have survivors of US-supervised torture and illegal activities participate.

Press is encouraged to make arrangements in advance with Capitol Building security.


Elizabeth Alexander is Director of the National Prison Project of the ACLU. A graduate of the Yale Law School, she has litigated many prison, jail and juvenile conditions of confinement cases in state and federal courts, including three cases that she briefed and argued in the United States Supreme Court. She has also published a number of articles on prison issues and has been a frequent speaker on criminal justice issues.

Jennifer Harbury is an attorney, author and activist. She has spent the last twenty years working for human rights reforms both in Guatemala and in the United States. Her husband, Mayan resistance leader Efraín Bámaca Velásquez, was captured alive by the Guatemalan military on March 12, 1992. He was secretly detained and tortured, and eventually executed without trial. Ms. Harbury¹s efforts to save his life, including three dangerous hunger strikes, resulted in startling official disclosures in 1995 about the CIA¹s use of known torturers as paid informants. Since that time, Ms. Harbury has pressed her case through a successful international trial at the Inter-American Court on Human Rights of the OAS, and continues to litigate claims against the CIA in the U.S. federal court system. She has written two books about her experiences, ³Searching for Everardo², (Warner Books 1997) and ³Bridge of Courage² (Common Courage Press, 1993). She has continued to investigate and document CIA involvement in torture in Latin America as well as the Middle East. Her newest book, ³Truth, Torture and the American Way² (Beacon, 2005) analyzes the historic, legal and policy questions raised by current US torture practices. She is a member of the Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition, ³TASSC², in Washington DC.

Alfred W. McCoy is a historian and current Professor of History in the "Center for Southeast Asian Studies", at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received an undergraduate degree from Columbia University and his PhD in Southeastern Asian history from Yale University. He primarily researches and writes about Philippines history and on the Golden Triangle drug trades of opium and heroin; his The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia was a landmark work documenting the interactions between the CIA and drug trade in Southeast Asia. In 2001, the Association for Asian Studies awarded him the Grant Goodman Prize. His most recent work is A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror.

Tara McKelvey is a senior editor at The American Prospect, is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review. She is also a research fellow at New York University School of Law's Center on Law and Security and a contributing editor at Marie Claire magazine. McKelvey is the author of an upcoming book, "On the Night Shift: Searching for the Truth at Abu Ghraib" (Carroll & Graf Publishers, April 2007), and the editor of an upcoming anthology: "One of the Guys: Women as Aggressors and Torturers" (Seal Press, December 2006). She was recently a plaintiff in the ACLU v. NSA lawsuit.

Joey Mogul, is an attorney and partner at the People¹s Law Office in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in civil rights, criminal and capital defense litigation. Ms. Mogul has been involved in the campaign for justice for Chicago police torture victims for the past eight years. Recently, she traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to present the Chicago police torture cases to the United Nations¹ Committee Against Torture. She currently represents Leroy Orange and Darrell Cannon, victims of Chicago police torture at Area 2 Police Headquarters, in their pending civil rights cases. She will address these Chicago Police torture cases, which involve over 100 African American men and women who were tortured in their headquarters from 1972 to 1991. She previously represented and worked on the behalf of several torture victims who were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to die in Illinois prior to Governor Ryan's commutation of all death sentences in Illinois. She is a member of the Chicago Committee on Police Torture. Mogul is an Oberlin College graduate and earned her juris doctorate from City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law.

Dr. Juan Romagoza was severely tortured in the presence of a North American. He currently lives in Washington DC and is a highly esteemed physician. He just won a legal case against the Salvadoran generals. Dr. Romagoza also runs the Clinica del Pueblo in Adams Morgan.

Michael Ratner is an attorney, adjunct professor of law at Columbia University Law School, and president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York, New York. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where his clients won a major victory in June, 2004 that gave them the right to test the legality of their detentions. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, and a textbook on international human rights.

Hina Shamsi is Senior Counsel in the U.S. Law & Security Program at Human Rights First, and works through research, litigation and advocacy to ensure that U.S. national security and counterterrorism policies reflect human rights protections under law. Before joining Human Rights First, Hina worked from 1998 to 2004 as a litigator at the New York law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, LLP. During 2004, she was one of the primary researchers and authors of the report, Torture by Proxy: International and Domestic Law Applicable to "Extraordinary Renditions," issued jointly by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU Law School. She also worked as a staff attorney at MFY Legal Services, Inc. Hina is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Law (1998) and Mount Holyoke College (1993).

Anne Wright is a US diplomat who resigned in opposition to the Iraq war and also a 29-year US Army Colonel who can provide military and diplomatic comments on the use of torture, rendition, and prison operations.

© Scoop Media

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