No reward for torture: #BlockHaspel as CIA Director
Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a public confirmation hearing for Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick for CIA director. No one, not even the CIA, disputes that Haspel oversaw a secret CIA black site and was involved in the destruction of video evidence of interrogations and torture. Yet the administration’s PR campaign has lauded Haspel as the perfect candidate for the job. Together with dozens of groups from faith, human rights, civil liberties, and open government communities, we urged Senators to oppose her confirmation, “[N]o matter what Ms. Haspel says during a hearing, any vote related to her nomination. . . will be seen as a referendum on torture—by the public, by U.S. allies and enemies, and perhaps most alarmingly by the president, who has openly advocated for torture. Second, Ms. Haspel has already been tested when it matters most, and she failed.”
We represent survivors of CIA torture and have long worked within the U.S. and in foreign courts to hold accountable high-level officials who authorized, justified, and covered up these heinous crimes. Gina Haspel should be prosecuted, not promoted to direct the CIA. If you’re in Washington, DC, please join CCR and our partners May 9 at an action outside the Hart Senate Building at 8:30 a.m.
The #JusticeDelegation in Palestine to highlight human rights defenders’ work – Vince Warren and Katherine Franke denied entry into Israel
Our executive director, Vincent Warren, and the chair of our board and Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Columbia University, Katherine Franke, were detained Sunday, April 29, for 14 hours and interrogated at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel. They were subsequently denied entry into Israel and deported. They were questioned about their political association with human rights groups that have been critical of Israel’s human rights record.
“The Israeli government denied us entry, apparently because it feared letting in people who might challenge its policies. This is something that we should neither accept nor condone from a country that calls itself a democracy,” Warren said.
Meanwhile, the #JusticeDelegation, a group of activists and lawyers led by CCR, has been highlighting human rights defenders’ work in the occupied territories of Palestine and met with a variety of prominent legal advocacy and human rights organizations, academics, and community leaders. They’ve worked on the ground to explore the intersection of Black and Brown people’s experiences in the U.S. with the situation of Palestinians.
WIN: Individual federal officials can be sued for acts of religious discrimination
Last week, a federal appeals court reinstated a lawsuit against 24 FBI agents alleging that they had placed or kept American Muslims men on the No-Fly List in order to force them to spy on their communities. Our clients had filed the lawsuit seeking removal from the list and damages under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Just days before the first major court hearing in the case, they received letters from the U.S. government informing them they were no longer on the list. A judge then refused to allow the men to continue litigating the case seeking damages for the harm they suffered.
“I am gratified that the court has recognized my right to be free from religious discrimination,” said Naveed Shinwari, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, in response to the appeals court decision. “By putting me on the No-Fly List, these federal agents punished me for refusing to spy on my own community and caused me and my family great pain. I want my Muslim brothers and sisters to know that this affair has only strengthened my faith and I will continue the fight for justice, God willing.”
“The court correctly understood that the only way to prevent future abuse of the No-Fly List is to provide accountability for past abuse,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Attorney Shayana Kadidal. “Having our clients removed from the list is an important accomplishment, but it is not enough to ensure that the FBI does not retaliate against others for refusing to become informants.”
Guantánamo: One prisoner released, but the challenge continues
On May 2, the first prisoner was transferred out of Guantánamo under the Trump administration. Ahmed Al Darbi was sent home to Saudia Arabia to serve the remainder of his sentence after he pled guilty before a military commission and agreed to cooperate with the government in exchange for an agreement to release him.
“My words will not do justice to what I lived through in these years and to the men I leave behind in prison,” Mr. Al Darbi said in a statement. “No one should remain at Guantánamo without a trial. There is no justice in that.”
As much as we would like to hope the transfer signals further positive movement from this administration, there is no such indication. Forty Muslim men are still held in a prison system that was set up to evade just laws and experiment on human beings.
That is why, together with co-counsel, we have a pending legal challenge on behalf of eleven prisoners who are detained without charge. We argue that these perpetual detentions violate the Constitution and are undergirded by the president’s executive hubris and anti-Muslim animus.