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December 08, 2014

Washington Week on Human Rights: December 8, 2014

Top News

CIA Torture Report

This week, the Senate intelligence committee is expected to release key sections of its report documenting the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program. The committee’s 6,000-plus-page study is one of Congress’s most comprehensive and thorough oversight endeavors in history. On Friday, National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said, “The President has been clear that he wants the executive summary of the Committee’s report to be declassified as expeditiously as possible, and we welcomed the news from the Committee that they plan to do so next week.” The report also has widespread support from a full spectrum of political, national security, and intelligence leaders, including Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The report was initiated, adopted, and submitted for declassification on three independent, bipartisan votes. The nonpartisan group of retired generals and admirals who stood with President Obama in the Oval Office as he signed an executive order banning torture have tirelessly advocated for the report’s release. In addition, some of the nation’s most respected interrogation and intelligence experts recently released a statement of principles denouncing torture and calling for the committee to release its findings. To follow developments on this story, click here.

Immigration

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee hearing on "The Impact on Local Communities of the Release of Unaccompanied Minors and the Need for Consultation and Notification." That same day, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on "Keeping Families Together: The President's Executive Action on Immigration and the Need to Pass Comprehensive Reform."

War Authorities

On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing to examine an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIL. The committee is also expected to mark up an AUMF this week. Recently, a group of legal experts released a statement of principles to guide Congress as it considers a new AUMF.

Guantanamo

Yesterday, six cleared Guantanamo detainees were transferred to Uruguay, bringing the prison's population down to 136, significant progress as the Obama Administration works to bring the number of detainees down to zero. Of the remaining Guantanamo detainees, 67 have been cleared by U.S. intelligence and security agencies. The vast majority of the other remaining detainees will face Periodic Review Board hearings—an interagency process that’s currently underway—that will assess whether they pose a significant security threat to the United States or should be cleared for transfer.

2014 Human Rights Summit

On Tuesday, December 9 and Wednesday, December 10, Human Rights First will host its third-annual Human Rights Summit at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. We will bring together international civil society activists, American policymakers, military, and business leaders to discuss today’s human rights challenges and to reaffirm the importance of U.S. leadership on human rights. The 2014 summit will seek to build consensus for action on a range of issues, from protecting the rights of LGBT people everywhere, to aligning U.S. counterterrorism policy with respect for human rights, to securing U.S. support for human rights defenders fighting for freedom around the globe. The event will feature Monique Villa, Senators Chris Coons and Mark Kirk, General John F. Kelly, Greg Louganis, the Honorable Tom Malinowski, Grover Norquist, and many other outstanding speakers. The two-day event will culminate with the presentation of the Beacon Prize to Senators Dianne Feinstein and John McCain for their leadership to end the use of torture and other cruel treatment of prisoners by the United States. Click here to register or learn more about how you can watch the event livestream.

Quote of the Week

"We have to get this report out. … (The interrogations undermined) societal and constitutional values that we are very proud of. Anybody who reads this is going to never let this happen again."

Senator Dianne Feinstein in the Los Angeles Times, December 7

We're Reading

As the Senate intelligence committee finalizes its plans for launch of its report on the post-9/11 CIA torture program, BloombergView’s Josh Rogin and Eli Lake take a look inside the process of preparing this landmark report.

The Hill’s Kristina Wong reported on President Obama’s decision to appoint Ash Carter as the new secretary of defense. Human Rights First urges him to use his authority as secretary to sign off on transfers for Guantanamo detainees who have been cleared by all relevant national security agencies.

As the Senate intelligence committee finalizes its plans for launch of its report on the post-9/11 CIA torture program, BloombergView’s Josh Rogin and Eli Lake take a look inside the process of preparing this landmark report.

Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley argued in Defense One that the U.S. officials should condemn Bahrain’s violent crackdown on political dissent while attending the Manama Dialogue, a security conference held in the Kingdom’s capital. In recent months the Bahraini government has ramped up its crackdown on human rights defenders and peaceful opposition groups.

We're Watching

Former CIA, FBI, NCIS, and U.S. Air Force interrogators are out this week with a new 30-second ad decrying torture as ineffective and harmful to national security.

On the Hill

DECEMBER 8, 2014

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of Robert Scher to be assistant Defense secretary for strategy, plans and capabilities; Elissa Slotkin to be assistant Defense secretary for international security affairs; David Berteau to be assistant Defense secretary for logistics and material readiness; and Alissa Starzak to be general counsel of the Department of the Army. 2:30PM, 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building

DECEMBER 9, 2014

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy and Global Women's Issues Subcommittee will hold a hearing on "ISIL's Reign of Terror: Confronting the Growing Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq and Syria." Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski; Nancy Lindborg, assistant administrator in the U.S. Agency for International Development's Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance; Sarah Margon, Washington director for Human Rights Watch; Vian Dakhil, member of Iraqi parliament; and Bishop Francis Kalabat of the St. Thomas the Apostle Chaldean Catholic Diocese, Detroit, Mich., will testify. 10AM, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have a hearing on "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against ISIL." 2PM, Senate Dirksen 106 

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights Subcommittee will hold a hearing on "The State of Civil and Human Rights in the United States." 2:30PM, 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

DECEMBER 10, 2014

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on "Countering ISIS: Are We Making Progress?" Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Brett McGurk testifies. 10AM, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building 

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a full committee markup to vote on pending executive nominations. 10AM 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building 

The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee and Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee will hold a joint hearing on "After the Withdrawal: The Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Part III)." State Department Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Jarret Blanc; Donald Sampler, assistant to the administrator in the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs; and James Soiles, deputy chief of operations in the Justice Department's Drug Enforcement Administration Office of Global Enforcement, will testify. 2PM, 2176 Rayburn House Office Building 

The House Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee will hold hearing on "The Impact on Local Communities of the Release of Unaccompanied Minors and the Need for Consultation and Notification." 2PM, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building 

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on "Keeping Families Together: The President's Executive Action on Immigration and the Need to Pass Comprehensive Reform." Immigration activist Astrid Silva and others will testify. 2:30PM, 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Around Town

DECEMBER 9 & 10, 2014

Human Rights First will hold its third annual Human Rights Summit in Washington, DC at the Newseum from December 9-10. The event brings together international civil society activists, American policymakers, military and business leaders to discuss today’s human rights challenges and affirm the importance of U.S. leadership on human rights. Register for this free summit or learn more here

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