Category Archives: In the news

NCCIT begins work, gains news coverage

The The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture (NCCIT) had its formal launch with a conference call for media on March 15, 2017.  So far, here’s the coverage:

  • WUNC, The State of Things: New Commission to probe alleged NC connection in extraordinary rendition flights (listen)
  • AP national story (as seen in the New York Times, as well as the Houston Chronicle, the Charlotte Observer, and many other media): Citizens’ group aims to investigate CIA rendition program
  • Baptist Global news: Minister joins effort to address North Carolina’s role in torture
  • Independent (London): A major new inquiry has just been opened and it could reveal just how complicit the UK was in CIA torture
  • Raleigh News & Observer: New Commission to look into North Carolina’s role in torture program
  • Fayetteville Observer: Panel aims to shine light on state’s role in supporting torture

In addition, the News & Observer published this op-ed by NCCIT co-chair Frank Goldsmith.

Update: Added several new stories that have been published since this post originally appeared.

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights inquiry reports

NCSTN is giving a big shout-out to Prof. Deborah Weissman, Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Chapel Hill, and her former law students, who in October 2014 filed a petition on behalf of CIA rendition survivor Abou ElKassim Britel (also known as Kassim Britel) with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez.

We just learned that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has released its communications with five governments on the case of Kassim Britel. This UN inquiry is the direct result of the work by Deborah and her students, which was covered by McClatchy DC in the article, UNC legal team, rights advocates take up cause of tortured ex-prisoner.

The case is important, both for Kassim and his family, and also because Kassim is one of many survivors of CIA-directed torture whose cases did not appear in the Senate Torture Report because they were never held at a CIA-run black site.

Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez used Prof. Weissman and students’ brief to write allegation letters regarding Kassim’s case to the governments of the United States, Pakistan, Morocco, Italy, and Portugal. He found the governments’ responses (or in the case of Morocco, non-response) completely inadequate.

Prof. Mendez said, “The Special Rapporteur urges the Government of the United States to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the incidents, to prosecute and punish those responsible and to provide Mr. Elkassim Britel with adequate redress.” He had similar messages for Pakistan, Morocco, Italy and Portugal.

These communications and findings will be presented next week at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Prof. Mendez’s report is at UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Kassim Britel – 2015, with Italy at paragraph 280, Morocco at 354, Pakistan at 398, Portugal at 451 and the U.S. at 653. Here is the response from the United States.

Senator Burr: More Concerned About President George W. Bush’s Legacy than National Security?

A letter from North Carolina Stop Torture Now coordinator Christina Cowger in the Jan. 23 edition of The Washington Post questions Senator Burr’s respect for his own constituents. Other national media reporting casts doubt on his fitness to lead the committee charged with overseeing the CIA.

Even commentators with the unabashedly conservative Fox News outlet are openly critical of attempts to bury the findings of the Senate torture report and argue that: “In a free society in which the government works for us, we have a right to know what it is doing in our names, and we have a reasonable expectation that the laws the government enforces against us it will enforce against itself. “

Continue reading Senator Burr: More Concerned About President George W. Bush’s Legacy than National Security?