Tag Archives: Center for Constitutional Rights

Mistrial Declared in Abu Ghraib Torture Suit Against US Contractor

“This will not be the final word; what happened in Abu Ghraib is engraved into our memories and will never be forgotten in history,” one plaintiff vowed.

By Brett Wilkins. Published 5-2-2024 by Common Dreams

U.S. Army Spc. Charles Graner tortures hooded and handcuffed prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo: U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command)

The federal judge presiding over a case filed by three Iraqis who were tortured by U.S. military contractors in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison two decades ago declared a mistrial Thursday after jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

After eight days of deliberation—a longer period than the trial itself—the eight civil jurors in Alexandria deadlocked over whether employees of CACI conspired with soldiers to torture detainees. The Virginia-based professional services and information technology firm was hired in 2003 during the George W. Bush administration to provide translators and interrogators in Iraq during the U.S.-led invasion and occupation, conspired with soldiers to torture detainees.

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Islamophobic Smear Campaign Against ‘Historic’ Judicial Nominee Condemned

“We urge senators to assess Mr. Mangi’s nomination based on his credentials and qualifications for the job, not his religion, race, or ethnicity.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 4-2-2024 by Common Dreams

Adeel Mangi speaks at his U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on December 13, 2023. (Photo: Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA/via Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 4.0)

A coalition of over 125 rights groups on Tuesday urged the U.S. Senate to vanquish an onslaught of Islamophobic attacks and confirm Adeel Mangi, who would be the first Muslim American to serve on a federal appeals court.

As some right-wing Democrats consider joining with Republicans to block his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, the groups explained in a letter to senators that they came together to support the Oxford- and Harvard-educated attorney, “highlight Mr. Mangi’s tremendous qualifications, and condemn the baseless and bigoted attacks being waged against this exceptional and historic nominee.”

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Steven Donziger, Lawyer Targeted by Chevron, Appeals to Biden for Pardon

“A pardon would bring a measure of justice to a prosecution that has been widely criticized as a violation of international law… and as a grave threat to free speech,” said 14 attorneys backing the climate justice lawyer’s request.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 3-20-2024 by Common Dreams

Steven Donziger at sentencing hearing in 2021 Photo: Marisam77/Wikimedia Commons/CC

After exhausting his options in the judicial system, American attorney Steven Donziger on Wednesday launched a campaign seeking a pardon from U.S. President Joe Biden for his misdemeanor conviction—the result of a process that experts worldwide have condemned as retaliatory for his climate justice work and an abuse of the nation’s judiciary.

“No matter where one stands on the political spectrum, we should all be able to agree that what happened to me in the United States should not happen to anybody in any country that adheres to the rule of law,” Donziger said in a statement announcing a letter to Biden signed by 14 prominent lawyers and a leader at the advocacy group Amazon Watch.

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22 Years, 4 Presidents, and Just 1 Conviction Later, Dozens Still Jailed at Guantánamo

“The Biden administration needs no new authority or ideas” to close the notorious torture prison, one rights group argues. “All it needs is the political will and a willingness to do the work.”

By Brett Wilkins. Published 1-11-2024 by Common Dreams

Protest in front of the White House on the 17th anniversary of Guantanamo Bay, 1/11/19. Photo: Victoria Pickering/flickr/CC

Human rights defenders marked 22 years since the opening of the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba with renewed calls for President Joe Biden to fulfill his stated intention to close the notorious torture camp, where 30 men—16 of them cleared for release—remain behind bars.

Like most of the roughly 750 prisoners released from Guantánamo, the majority of remaining detainees have never been charged with any crime. Only one—Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman al-Bahlul, a Yemeni national—has ever been convicted of terrorism-related charges under the highly controversial military commission regime established by the George W. Bush administration in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

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‘This Is Madness’: Supreme Court Denies Solitary Confinement Appeal

Rep. Cori Bush, who is leading the End Solitary Confinement Act, argues that “we are using taxpayer money to torture people.”

By Brett Wilkins. Published 11-15-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: Matthew Thompson/flickr/CC

The U.S. Supreme Court’s three liberal justices issued a scathing dissent this week as the tribunal’s right-wing supermajority rejected the appeal of an Illinois inmate with mental illness imprisoned in solitary confinement without access to fresh air for three straight years.

The nation’s high court declined to hear the appeal of Michael Johnson, an inmate at Pontiac Correctional Center northeast of Peoria, whose attorneys argued he was being subjected to unconstitutional “cruel and unusual punishment” as he was deprived of fresh air and outdoor exercise while enduring horrific conditions in a tiny, filthy cell.

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‘Scathing’ Report From UN Expert’s Historic Visit Revives Calls to Close Guantánamo

“It is well past time to demand the closure of the prison, accountability from U.S. officials, and reparations for the torture and other ill-treatment that the detainees have suffered at the hands of the U.S. government,” said one campaigner.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 6-26-2023 by Common Dreams

A couple hundred activists and supporters converged in front of the White House Sunday, January 11, 2015, the 13th anniversary of the opening of the prison camp at Guantanamo. Photo: Debra Sweet/flickr/CC

Human rights advocates on Monday renewed their calls for the swift closure of the U.S. prison at Naval Station Guantánamo Bay in Cuba after a United Nations expert released the findings from her historic trip to the infamous facility.

The prison was established in 2002, after then-President George W. Bush launched the War on Terror in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. On the campaign trail and since taking office, President Joe Biden—who is seeking reelection next year—has indicated he wants to close the facility. His administration was the first to allow a visit by a U.N. expert earlier this year.

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’21 Years Is 21 Too Many’: 150+ Groups Urge Biden to Close Guantánamo

“We should not be marking another year in the life of this ignominious product of U.S. imperialism and racism as we have every January since the first anniversary of its opening in 2002,” said one of the letter’s signers. “Yet we will succeed in shutting it down.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 1-11-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: CODEPINK/Twitter

Twenty-one years after the George W. Bush administration opened the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba—and 13 years after then-President Barack Obama signed an executive order for its closure—more than 150 groups on Wednesday implored the Biden administration to “act without delay” to close the notorious lockup.

“Among a broad range of human rights violations perpetrated against predominantly Muslim communities over the last two decades, the Guantánamo detention facility—built on the same military base where the United States unconstitutionally detained Haitian refugees in deplorable conditions in the early 1990s—is the iconic example of the abandonment of the rule of law,” the groups said in a letter to President Joe Biden. “The Guantánamo detention facility was designed specifically to evade legal constraints, and Bush administration officials incubated torture there.” Continue reading

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‘Frightening Escalation’: Palestinian Rights Group Says Director Detained by Israeli Agency

A human rights attorney argued that the Biden administration’s refusal to condemn Israel’s smear of leading Palestinian organizations as terrorists “has led to this day.”

By Jessica Corbett  Published 8-21-2022 by Common Dreams

Defense for Children International-Palestine said that director general Khaled Quzmar was detained by the Israeli security agency known as Shin Bet on August 21, 2022. (Photo: DCI-P/Twitter)

Human rights advocates around the world responded with alarm after one of the Palestinian groups targeted by Israeli officials announced Israel’s security agency detained its leader for a couple of hours Sunday.

Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P) said in a series of tweets that director general Khaled Quzmar was in the custody of the agency, known as Shin Bet or Shabak, “as Israeli authorities again escalate attacks” against it and other civil society groups. Continue reading

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Critics Fume as ICC Excludes US From Probe Into Afghan War Crimes

“Allowing powerful states to get away with multi-year, multi-continent torture against so many feeds impunity for all.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-27-2021

Photo: pixabay

A Monday announcement from the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor saying his office is seeking approval to resume its investigation into potential war crimes in Afghanistan committed by the Taliban and the Islamic State—but excluding alleged atrocities committed by U.S. forces—sparked a flurry of outrage from human rights defenders.

“It seems there is no end to the betrayal of Afghans—now so many victims of torture and other abuses by U.S. and former Afghan government forces have been told there is no justice for you,” Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director for Human Rights Watch, tweeted Monday in response to the announcement. Continue reading

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‘Critical First Step’ But ‘Long Overdue’: Biden Repeals Trump Sanctions on the ICC

“Trump’s sanctions set a dangerous precedent for attacks on victims, lawyers, human rights advocates, and courts.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-2-2021

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda speaking at the Oslo Forum in 2014. Photo: Stine Merethe Eid/CC

Progressives in Congress and human rights organizations on Friday welcomed the Biden administration’s repeal of sanctions on the International Criminal Court imposed under former President Donald Trump in a bid to pressure the Hague-based tribunal to not investigate alleged U.S. and Israeli crimes.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in a statement that President Joe Biden revoked Trump’s Executive Order 13928, “ending the threat and imposition of economic sanctions and visa restrictions in connection with the court.” Continue reading

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