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Tell AG Holder: It's Time to Hold Torturers Accountable for Their Actions

Man With Hands TiedA bipartisan group composed of former members of Congress, former administration officials, and military, legal, and medical experts, recently released a report confirming once and for all that the United States has engaged in torture and that medical personnel were complicit. PHR has long documented acts of torture and other forms of ill treatment in U.S. custody. We have documented the extent of psychological torture against detainees and its devastating health effects. PHR experts used medical evidence to prove that U.S. personnel were in fact subjecting detainees to torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. The task force report confirms those findings and supports the consensus that the methods of interrogation of detainees in U.S. custody amounted to torture.

The Obama administration can no longer hide from this information – it must address the crimes of the past to ensure that such abuse never happens again. Call on Attorney General Eric Holder to initiate an investigation into torture of detainees, unequivocally acknowledge these past acts of torture, hold perpetrators accountable, and provide full reparation to victims of abuse.

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Attorney General Holder, It's Time to Hold Torturers Accountable for Their Actions.

Dear Attorney General Holder

I support President Obama's renewed commitment to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. For far too long, detainees have been abused, even tortured, during their interrogations and by being held indefinitely with no prospect of release.

But I am also gravely concerned about findings that the interrogation practices of detainees in U.S. custody in the post-9/11 period amount to torture. Information about acts of torture on the part of U.S. personnel is not new, but the release of a bipartisan and independent examination of U.S. interrogation practices by the Constitution Project's Task Force on Detainee Treatment confirms studies by Physicians for Human Rights and other organizations that documented acts of torture within the context of the "war on terror." With the publication of this report, the Department of Justice and the rest of the Obama Administration can no longer hide from the fact that U.S. officials engaged in acts of torture against detainees. I call on you to initiate an investigation into torture of detainees, unequivocally acknowledge those past acts of torture, hold perpetrators accountable, and provide full reparation to victims of abuse.

The administration must also take steps to prevent such abuses in the future. Those would include ending abusive interrogation practices now included in Appendix M of the Army Field Manual; instituting international standards of investigating and documenting torture and ill treatment, including forensic medical evaluations; instituting effective monitoring of interrogation practices; and ending the use of "non-clinical" medical personnel in interrogations. The administration must also respect and implement medical ethical standards and immediately end forced feeding and hydration of hunger strikers.

Victims of torture and other forms of ill treatment require rehabilitation and reparation. The current lack of adequate rehabilitation may only enhance the detrimental physical and psychological effects of torture on survivors, as Physicians for Human Rights has documented. As a party to the Convention Against Torture, the United States has a legal obligation to provide fair compensation and the maximum possible rehabilitation to victims of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

Closing Guantanamo, and freeing detainees who have been cleared for release, would go some way toward restoring a measure of justice following a sorry chapter of American history. But until we acknowledge the wrongs of the past, we risk committing such crimes in the future. Seize this moment of bipartisan consensus on the use of torture against detainees and begin a national reckoning to make sure that such abuse never happens again.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]