JCPA: Investigate detainee treatment


The Jewish Council for Public Affairs has joined 17 other human rights organizations in asking President Obama to create a commission investigating and examining the U.S. treatment of detainees in the years following the Sept. 11 attacks. Here’s JCPA’s release announcing their participation, along with the statement.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), along with 17 other advocacy groups, endorsed a statement — signed by leading experts, including a former FBI director, an Army general who investigated detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, and a former Under Secretary of State — that calls on President Obama to appoint a non-partisan commission to investigate and examine the detention, treatment and transfer of detainees following the September 11th terrorist attacks.

This commission will also recommend policies to the President that are designed to keep the United States safe and to uphold our national commitment to freedom and human rights.  The statement, below, was signed by Juan E. Mendez, president of the International Center for Transitional Justice; Thomas Pickering, former undersecretary of state for political affairs; Judge William Sessions, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Major General Antonio M. Taguba, USA
(Ret.); and Rev. Dr. John H. Thomas, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ.  

Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of JCPA, released the following statement: "The President needs to have a comprehensive understanding of the nation’s interrogation, detention and transfer policies. As President Obama implements new national security policies, he must know the strengths and weakness of previous programs and directives. We believe the President has a duty to protect the American people in a way that upholds our nation’s deepest values and cherished traditions of justice. Our Jewish values emphasize treating other people – even those who commitment the most heinous of acts — justly and with mercy. Previous policies, such as cruel
interrogation techniques and extraordinary rendition, have distorted our national values and compromised and moral authority. We must understand what harm was done so that we our future polices can better protect the American people and our national values.

"President Obama should establish a non-partisan commission to review previous interrogation, detention, and transfer polices, and make strong recommendations that improve our nation’s security and uphold our country’s moral authority. This commission should consider both policy failures and successes — analyzing their origin, implementation and consequences. The President, and the American people, needs to know what went right and what went wrong to ensure the United
States remains a safe and secure."

JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 14 national and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations. 

And the statement:

Statement on Commission Relating to Detention, Treatment, and Transfer of Detainees  

We urge President Obama to appoint a non-partisan commission of distinguished Americans to examine, and provide a comprehensive report on, policies and actions related to the detention, treatment, and transfer of detainees after 9/11 and the consequences of those actions, and to make recommendations for future policy in this area.   We believe all members of the commission must have reputations for putting the truth and the respect for our nation’s founding principles ahead of any partisan advantage. Members should be persons of irreproachable integrity, credibility, and independence.
Leading academics, retired judges and government officials, retired military officers and intelligence officials and human rights experts are examples of the types of profiles that should be sought. The President should solicit recommendations from the majority and minority
leaders in both houses in the process of choosing commission members. 

Juan E. Mendez, President, the International Center for Transitional Justice; Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the UN on the Prevention of Genocide, 2004-2007; Commissioner, 2000-2003, and President, 2002, of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States Thomas Pickering, Vice Chairman, Hills & Co., Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, 1996-2000 Judge William Sessions, Partner, Holland and Knight LLP, Director of the FBI, 1987-1993, Judge, United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, 1974-1987 Major General Antonio M. Taguba, USA (Retired) Rev. Dr. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ (Affiliations for Identification Only)   The following organizations have also endorsed the statement:

Amnesty International USA

The Brennan Center for Justice

The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University, School of Law

The Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, University of California, Davis

The Center for Victims of Torture

The Constitution Project

The Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley

Human Rights First

Human Rights Watch

The International Center for Transitional Justice

The International Justice Network

The Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs

The National Institute of Military Justice

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture

The Open Society Institute

Physicians for Human Rights

The Rutherford Institute

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