President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Bush:
I am deeply concerned by allegations of torture and other mistreatment of detainees held at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan and other U.S. facilities overseas. If these claims are true, the United States would be in violation of the most basic human rights standards. I urge you to immediately clarify that torture is not U.S. policy, investigate the charges of abuse, hold any perpetrators accountable, end the transfer of detainees from U.S. custody to countries that routinely torture prisoners, and take all necessary steps to ensure that no such abuse occurs again.
The U.S. government has not repudiated media reports that detainees held in detention centers at Bagram are being subjected to “stress and duress” techniques such as beatings, being forced to stand, kneel, or assume painful or awkward positions for long periods of time, and light or sleep deprivation. The U.S. is investigating the deaths of two detainees at Bagram that a military pathologist ruled were caused by blunt force injuries that exacerbated other medical conditions. Other detainees apprehended abroad have reportedly been transferred to the intelligence services of countries such as Jordan, Egypt, and Syria that commonly practice torture, according to the State Department’s own human rights reports.
The United States is a party to numerous treaties that prohibit the use of torture and other mistreatment, including interrogation techniques allegedly used at Bagram, as well as the transfer of detainees to countries where torture is likely. The United States prides itself on its respect for freedom and rights, and has cited these values as justification for the actions it takes abroad. Yet, in many countries around the world, people have heard news of these allegations, and now believe that the United States routinely practices torture. It is critical that your administration take immediate and comprehensive action to address these allegations. The ability of the United States to promote freedom and democracy is undermined when the rest of the world believes the United States is unwilling to follow the same human rights standards it urges others to uphold.
These allegations are very serious. I urge you, as president, to respond to them in full and ensure that the United States protects human rights.
Thank you for you attention to these concerns.