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estine and Iraq as the number one reason for negative attitudes toward Americans in some Arab countries.
The countries polled included some of the United States' strongest allies in the Middle East: Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In an earlier AAIZI poll, done in March of 2002, we found that U.S. favorable ratings were already quite low. The most significant drops in U.S. ratings occurred in Morocco and Jordan. In 2002, for example, 34% of Jordanians had a positive view of the United States as compared with 61% who had a negative view. By 2004, only 10% of Jordanians held a positive view of the United States, while 81% see the country in a negative light. Similarly in Morocco the favorable/unfavorable rating towards the United States in 2002 was 38% to 61% percent. Two years later, it was 9% favorable and 88% unfavorable.
The U.S. favorable/unfavorable rating was already quite low in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. It has remained low.
Buttressing these poll results are my experiences in the Arab world, where I travel frequently. In conversations with opinion leaders across the region, the concern they raise most frequently is American civil liberties abuses against Arabs and Muslims.
Due to a variety of factors, including fear of discrimination, many fewer Arabs come to the U.S. for medical treatment, tourism, study, or business. In the past, Arab visitors to the U.S. have had a chance to observe first-hand the unique nature of American democracy and freedom and have returned to the Arab world as ambassadors for our values.
President Bush has rightly linked the spread of democracy to the war on terrorism. Unfortunately, civil liberties abuses against Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. and the indefinite secret detention and highly coercive interrogation of Arab and Muslim detainees in Guantanamo Bay and other locations has undermined our openness and harmed our ability to advocate credibly for democratic reforms in the Middle East. In fact, some Arab governments now point to American practices to justify their own human rights abuses. As President Bush suggested, and as we have learned so painfully, anti-democratic practices and human rights abuses promote instability and create the conditions that breed terrorism. Democratic reformers and human rights activists used to look to the U.S. as an exemplar, the city on a hill. Now they are dismissed by their countrymen when they point to the American experience.
Once we set a high standard for the world, now we have lowered the bar. The damage to our image, to the values we have sought to project, and to our ability to deal more effectively with root causes of terror have been profound.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Ms. Pearlstein.
TESTIMONY OF DEBORAH PEARLSTEIN, DIRECTOR,
U.S. LAW AND SECURITY PROGRAM Ms. PEARLSTEIN. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Conyers, for inviting Human Rights First to share our views today on the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act.
My name is Deborah Pearlstein, and I direct the U.S. Law and Security Program at Human Rights First, which is formerly the Lawyers Committee For Human Rights.
We are grateful for the opportunity to speak and we welcome your review today of the PATRIOT Act as part of a much needed move to engage in more aggressive congressional oversight of U.S. counterterrorism laws and policies. I would like to focus on these brief remarks on the profound need for greater oversight in this area, and particularly the critical importance of building on the scope of section 804 of the PATRIOT Act, which recognizes the need for enforcing U.S. laws and U.S. operations overseas. This idea of oversight and accountability is one that the PATRIOT Act itself squarely incorporates in a provision we urge this Committee to champion anew. Section 804 of the act amends the definition of
include "offenses committed by or against a national of the United States."
On diplomatic, consular or military premises overseas, the act thus now makes clear that the Department of Justice now has jurisdiction to prosecute crimes by or against U.S. persons committed on these sites as part of the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction.
In light of the sustained public focus on the ongoing detention of foreign nationals throughout the world and the substantial hit our national security interests have taken as a result of these practices, using the power of the PATRIOT Act in this respect has never been more important. We believe that the way to build on this provision of the act is by establishing a bipartisan independent commission to look comprehensively at U.S. detention and interrogation operations in the war on terror. We believe such a commission is not only critical to restoring America's commitment to protecting basic human rights, but also is an increasingly urgent requirement to prevent U.S. national security.
Let me explain briefly why I believe this is the case. Since September 11, 2001 the scope of U.S. detention and intelligence collection operations worldwide has grown dramatically. Far from diminishing in importance is U.S. missions in Afghanistan and Iraq have matured, detention operations are picking up permanence and pace with the numbers of individuals in U.S. custody worldwide close to 12,000 today. Despite the sustained nature of these operations, a startling number of questions about the U.S. global detention system remain shrouded in secrecy. What is the legal basis of detaining those held? And what are the plans for their future? Does the International Red Cross now have access to all held in U.S. custody or do we continue to hold ghost detainees beyond the reach of humanitarian aid or law? Critically, what methods of interrogation and conditions of detention do U.S. held detainees face and are we now in compliance worldwide with basic constitutional and treaty prohibitions on torture as well as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of any kind.
One need not be an expert in U.S. international and human rights law to recognize the urgency of these questions. According to the Pentagon's own figures, more than 100 people have died in U.S. custody since 2002. This includes 28 cases classified already by the Pentagon as homicides. At least half of those were people who were literally tortured to death.
To be clear, this is not a problem about a handful of actors from Abu Ghraib. Only one of the criminal homicides identified by the Department of Defense occurred at Abu Ghraib. The rest occurred at others of the two dozen-some detention facilities the United States maintains worldwide, well beyond the few young soldiers facing courts martial from Abu Ghraib. 137 U.S. soldiers so far have been punished for acts of torture or abuse, perhaps worse, the problem appears to be ongoing. At least 45 detainees have died in U.S. custody since Secretary Rumsfeld was informed of the torture at Abu Ghraib on January 16, 2004.
This is not a problem, first and foremost, about our brave troops. This is about command responsibility and congressional oversight.
and human rights lawyers have been matched and indeed exceeded by our friends and colleagues in the military and intelligence communities who believe current policies have been devastating both to the safety of our troops and the security interests of our nations. As a distinguished coalition of retired admirals and generals wrote last fall, “understanding what is going wrong and what can be done to avoid systemic failure in the future is essential to ensure that the effectiveness of the U.S. military and intelligence operation is not compromised by an atmosphere of permissiveness, ambiguity or confusion."
Even more starkly as one U.S. Army interrogator returning from Afghanistan noted, “The more a prisoner hates America, the harder he will be to break. The more a population hates America, the less likely its citizens will be to lead us to a suspect.”
Our detention practices have inflamed our enemies and alienated potential allies and they continue to run contrary to the security imperatives this body seeks to protect.
Finally, there can be no question that the investigations to date have been inadequate. As Human Rights first detailed at length in our recent report, Getting to Ground Truth, Government investigations so far have suffered from a lack of independence, failures to investigate relevant agencies and personnel, cumulative reporting, increasing the risk that error and omissions are perpetuating in successive reports, contradictory conclusions, questionable use of security classification withheld information, failures to address senior military and civilian responsibility, and an absence of any comprehensive game plan for corrective action. Human rights for the past 4 years
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentlewoman's time has expired.
Ms. PEARLSTEIN. Can I conclude briefly?
Ms. PEARLSTEIN. Our past 4 years of active engagement on these issues has persuaded us a 9/11-style commission, independent, bipartisan and of unassailable credibility is critical to understand finally what has gone wrong in the US detention interrogation operations, and to chart a way forward to accountability and correction. Today's hearing can be a valuable first step in taking seriously the cause of liberty and safety. And we thank you for your consideration.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Thank you.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DEBORAH PEARLSTEIN Thank you for inviting Human Rights First to share our views on the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act. My name is Deborah Pearlstein. I am the Director of the US Law and Security Program at Human Rights First. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak, and welcome your review today of the Patriot Act in the context of a much needed Congressional assessment of all U.S. counter-terrorism laws and policies. In my testimony today I would like to offer a few basic principles we hope the Committee will consider as it exercises its critical responsibility for reviewing and overseeing the authority given the Executive Branch under the PATRIOT Act.
For nearly 30 years, Human Rights First, formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, has worked in the United States and abroad to advance the values we believe all Americans share: a respect for justice and human dignity, and a comdispassionate legal analysis and pragmatic policy advice to help craft solutions to the most pressing human rights problems facing the world today,
It was with these values and this approach to our work—that Human Rights First responded to the attacks of September 11 by creating a new U.S. Law and Security Program to engage on the human rights questions presented by U.S. national security policies. As the first director of that program, and a constitutional lawyer by training, I approach this work starting from three guiding principles.
First, Al Qaeda poses a very serious security threat to the American people, and the U.S. Government has the right and duty to protect Americans from attack. We thus welcome efforts to improve coordination among federal, state and local agencies, and between law enforcement and intelligence officials. Equally welcome are greater efforts to protect the nation's infrastructure supporting energy, transportation, food and water; efforts to strengthen the preparedness of our domestic frontline defenders, police, firefighters and emergency medical teams, as well as those working in public health. That recognition has meant for us, among other things, reaching out to members of the U.S. military and intelligence communities to understand the nature of the security challenge we face, and to discuss rights-respecting solutions that are equal to the challenge. We are proud to say that we have found many allies in these communities, and many areas of common cause.
The second principle is that the governments that are most effective in safeguarding human security are those that operate strictly under the rule of law: that is, under a system in which people are governed by public laws that are set in advance, applied equally in all cases, and are binding and enforceable on both individuals and on the government that serves them. For this reason, we have worked hard to engage all three branches of government in fulfilling their responsibilities to sustain our rule-of-law system. We have participated as monitors at Guantanamo Bay as the President's military commission trials began; advocated in the courts to ensure in all cases independent judicial review; and urged the vigorous exercise of congressional oversight in all aspects of U.S. counterterrorism activities—most recently in leading bipartisan calls for Congress to appoint an independent commission to study the challenges of detention and interrogation in Afghanistan, Iraq, at Guantanamo and elsewhere. In this spirit, we strongly welcome this hearing today.
inally, we believe that the relationship between security and liberty is not zerosum. That taking rights away does not necessarily improve security. And likewise, that some of the most effective security-enhancing measures we have seen since September 11—including efforts to improve tracking of cargo containers coming into the United States, and a renewed commitment to disease surveillance to safeguard against biological attack—are broadly neutral with respect to rights.
It is because we believe that the security costs and benefits that flow from laws cannot be gleaned simply from what rights they burden that we believe the PATRIOT Act discussion remains one in which more questions than answers remain. Homeland Security Department Secretary Chertoff emphasized recently the importance of risk-management principles in designing an effective approach to minimizing the threat of terrorism, urging that in "weigh[ing] the risks of a particular action, you conduct a cost-benefit analysis, and you factor these into your considerations.” Four years in to the PATRIOT Act's implementation, we still lack a full, public accounting from the Department of Justice of the Act's use and its effects, for good and ill. Without this, we all remain poorly equipped to measure how much liberty or security we should cede.
Underlying all of these principles is an idea the PATRIOT Act itself incorporates, in a provision we urge this Committee to champion anew-the idea of accountability. Section 804 of the Act in particular amends the definition of “special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States” to include “offenses committed by or against a national of the United States” on diplomatic, consular or military premises overseas. The Act thus now makes clear that the Department of Justice has jurisdiction to prosecute crimes by or against U.S. persons committed on these sites as part of this “special maritime and territorial jurisdiction.” In light the sustained public focus on the ongoing detention of foreign nationals throughout the world, and the substantial hit our national security interests have taken as a result of these practices, using the power of the PATRIOT Act in this respect has never been more important.
This Committee should oversee, enhance, and enforce this aspect of the PATRIOT Act-and the Justice Department's pivotal role in carrying it out. With the powers that this Act and others like it provide comes the strict responsibility to enforce the laws as they exist. In including Section 804 in the Act originally, we believe Congress meant to signal its commitment to coupling new grants of power with equal measures of oversight and enforcement. Now is the time for Congress to strengthen tion of the United States. And where the Department of Justice falls short, this body must bear the weight.
Thank you for considering our views. We welcome your active engagement and the opportunity to continue to work with you on these vitally important issues.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Pitts.
TESTIMONY OF CHIP PITTS, CHAIR OF THE BO RD,
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA Mr. PITTS. Thank you, distinguished Chairman, Ranking Member and Committee Members. Amnesty international's millions of activists in the U.S. and in over 100 countries around the world call human rights violations as we see them, based on rigorous research and regardless of the government or armed group committing them.
Our touchstone is international law, including the universal declaration of human rights and the Geneva conventions, international instruments that the U.S. helped create. Amnesty vigorously condemns terrorists attacks like the horror of 9/11. We also understand history's clear lesson that human rights and the rule of law are indispensable prerequisites to true security for all. The PATRIOT Act, along with other post 9/11 laws, executive orders and policies seriously undermine human rights, weaken the global human rights framework and contribute both to human rights violations and, we believe, increased terror attacks. The mere existence of such measures has a chilling effect on fundamental freedoms, including speech and association, religion and belief, privacy, due process and equal protection.
These are U.S. constitutional rights. But they're also binding international law treaty obligations. Encouraging the presumption of guilt rather than innocence, the PATRIOT Act sweeps innocent people within its ambit. It has inspired a cascade of similar laws around the world that weaken the rule of law, so essential to protecting human rights, including the right to be protected from terrorist attacks.
With active U.S. encouragement almost every country around the world now has new anti-terror legislation, often modeled on the USA PATRIOT Act. Abusive governments globally, including China, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Egypt, Uzbekistan, now cite U.S. actions to justify their own violations.
We urge Congress to correct the deficiencies of the PATRIOT Act by three main measures, restoring checks and balances, restoring individualized fact-based suspicion, and thirdly, independent judicial review. Amnesty is especially concerned about section 802's broad definition of domestic terrorism, which has already discouraged free association and peaceful dissent. Section 412's allowing indefinite detention merely upon the Attorney General's say-so, violating U.S. and international rights to due process and nondiscrimination, reduced or eliminated judicial review in sections like 215 and 505 which allow secret Government invasions of free thought, belief, religion, expression, press and privacy, and section 213's overbroad sneak-and-peak home search provision also infringing privacy rights.
Congress should enforce the Patriot Act's current sunset provi