Monday, April 14, 2008

More on homelessness, anti-torture action alert

The Cap Times describes how the debate on homelessness has taken a hostile turn. This hostility has been significantly seen (electronically) through debates among mostly anonymous forum postings on area on-line newspapers as well as debates between high-profile blogs (like Blaska's blog which suggests that Madison's leadership coddles the homeless in general and ignores criminal behavior by downtown "transients" in particular, and Alder Brenda Konkel's blog which points out the civil liberties concerns with profilling the homeless in unsolved murder cases.)

This Channel 3000 report also described the hostility in its report on the press conference called by anti-homelessness advocates which identified the "economic profilling" of the homeless by police. This report however noted comments by police spokesperson De Spain that the rounding up of the homeless in the investigation was just to ask them questions about what they might have seen in the neighborhood. Questions about whether or not they all had to submit DNA tests or if they had legal representation during the questioning is still unclear. Despite the 200 or so tips received by the police regarding the Bassett-area murder, police aren't reporting any substantial leads and remain focused on area panhandlers.

Action alert from the national ACLU:
On Friday night, in a national television interview, President Bush directly admitted what we have suspected all along: The White House was deeply and intimately involved in decisions about the CIA’s use of torture.

For the first time, George W. Bush acknowledged that he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details of the CIA’s use of torture. “I’m aware that our national security team met on this issue and I approved,” he said. He also defended the use of waterboarding -- simulated drowning where the victim feels like they are about to die.

Congress should long ago have gotten to the bottom of which top officials approved, condoned and authorized U.S. involvement in torture. But, now that the President has admitted to a policy of top-down torture, the ACLU is calling on Congress to demand an independent prosecutor to investigate possible violations of the War Crimes Act, the federal Anti-Torture Act and federal assault laws.

Tell your members of Congress: Don’t look the other way on torture.

These latest revelations confirm our worst fears about subversion of the Constitution and betrayals of the rule of law by top government officials. Recent reports indicate that members of the Bush administration including Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and George Tenet met regularly and approved the CIA’s use of “combined” “enhanced” interrogation techniques, even pushing the limits of the now infamous 2002 Justice Department “Yoo torture memo.”

That long-secret memorandum became public recently as a direct result of ACLU lawsuits aimed at getting out the truth. And the truth is, the indefensible legal opinions put forward in the torture memo tried to give the President a virtual blank check to ignore the rule of law and to violate human rights standards.

Don't tolerate torture. Demand accountability for torture now!

We have to do everything possible to reject the Bush administration’s top-down torture policies. That’s why the ACLU is stepping up pressure on Congress to use its constitutional powers to prevent illegal conduct.

It’s also why the ACLU has taken the extraordinary step of offering our assistance to Guantanamo detainees being prosecuted under the unconstitutional military commissions process. It is more important than ever that the U.S. government, when seeking justice against those it suspects of harming us, adhere to due process and the rule of law.

Take action: Tell Congress to demand answers!

If President Bush's admission finally gets Congress to challenge the Bush administration's torture policies head-on, we can begin restoring the values and due process that the Bush administration has severely undermined in the name of national security.

But, it won’t happen without an unyielding public outcry. Please do your part. Demand that your members of Congress reject torture by holding to account those responsible for approving and implementing these un-American policies.

Caroline Fredrickson, Director
ACLU Washington Legislative Office