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Panel of Experts Weighs In on Torture


A panel made up of human rights activists, authors and a former U.S. Army brigadier general in charge of Abu Ghraib prison addressed the United States’ use of torture as part of a forum at Fordham University on June 14.

Held in the McNally Amphitheatre at the Lincoln Center campus, the discussion, “Sunlight in the Torture Chamber: Expert Views on the United States’ Use of Secrecy, Detention and Interrogations in the War on Terrorism,” was designed to call attention to the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Day of Action to Restore the Rule of Law on Tuesday, June 26. The panel discussed forced disappearances, the failure of the media and the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Panel member Steven M. Watt, senior staff attorney with the Human Rights Program at the ACLU, called “extraordinary rendition”—the United States’ practice of sending suspected terrorists to countries with weak civil liberties protections for interrogation—“a euphemism for torture.” Also on the panel was Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, former commanding general at Abu Ghraib and author of One Woman’s Army: The Commanding General of Abu Ghraib Tells Her Story (Miramax Books, 2005). Karpinski was in charge of managing the notorious prison in 2004 when photographs depicting members of the U.S. military abusing detainees were made public. She was relieved of her command and demoted to the rank of colonel.

The event was moderated by New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis and co-sponsored by the New York Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, the Brennan Center for Law and Security at New York University, People for the American Way and Fordham Law School’s Public Interest Resource Center. The ACLU is sponsoring the June 26 march on Washington to demand that Congress put an end to what the organization considers civil liberties violations in connection with detainees held as part of the war on terrorism, in particular those in the detention center at Guantánamo Bay.


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