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As Joe Biden settles into his presidency, in addition to facing a pandemic and economic crisis, he will hear demands for accountability. If President Biden is going to help restore a robust commitment to the rule of law, he will need to reach…
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Much concern has been raised, for good reason, about President Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel to head the Central Intelligence Agency. Haspel allegedly was involved in reckless, illegal torture under the agency’s “rendition,…
Gina Haspel, a veteran CIA clandestine officer picked by U.S. President Donald Trump to head the Central Intelligence Agency, is shown in this handout photograph released on March 13, 2018. © 2018 CIA handout
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As of today, the United States has used its Guantanamo Bay facility for 16 years to detain people it alleges pose a security threat without charge or fair trial. The number of people locked up has been reduced from 780 at the peak to 41…
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Iraq’s Abuse of Civilians Will Make it Easy for the Next Version of the Extremist Group to Recruit

(Baghdad) – As the grim scene played out on my computer screen in Baghdad on July 12, my stomach sank. I was watching a video clip of men in Iraqi army uniforms throwing a detainee off a cliff onto the banks of a river and…
Popular Mobilization Force members on the frontline with the Islamic State in al-Fatha, northeast of Baiji, Iraq on October 18, 2015.
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On March 20, Utah officially repealed an anachronistic provision of state law that prohibited the "advocacy of homosexuality" in public schools.   The repeal is an important milestone, and will make a huge difference for Utah…
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On Feb. 9, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained Irvin González, an undocumented transgender woman, inside a courthouse in El Paso, Texas, where she had just obtained a protection order against her abusive former partner. She had…
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It Gets Better, Just Not Here

Over the past year, I’ve traveled around the United States interviewing students, teachers, and administrators about the issues that LGBT people face in schools. The stories I heard were sobering. Despite some progress in laws and attitudes,…
Josh Greer, a student who has been the target of bullying and discrimination in school, writes in his journal in his bedroom in Cache Country, UT, October 2016.
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On Friday, the Obama Administration made headlines when the Department of Education and Department of Justice issued guidance explaining how public schools should respect the rights of transgender students.  The federal guidance has…
A sign protesting a recently introduced North Carolina law restricting bathroom access for transgender people, in Durham, North Carolina.
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The Republican candidate for president of the United States speaks and writes approvingly of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” He is referring to a program run by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that subjected people the US detained…
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In 2004, four Iraqis filed a criminal complaint with the German federal prosecutor against senior United States officials alleging torture by US armed forces in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The US government strongly protested and warned that the complaint…
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It’s been a year since the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a summary of a still classified 6,700-word report, revealed new information about the brutality and depravity of the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”: “rectal feedings”…
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The American Civil Liberties Union recently released footage of an 8-year-old student in Kenton County, Kentucky, shackled and crying in pain. In the video, the third-grader (named only “SR”), is restrained by a pair of handcuffs around his biceps,…
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Congress, or at least parts of it, is getting restless with the White House approach to human rights abuses in Central Asia. A recent hearing by the House of Representatives’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on the region’s terrible human rights record…
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At his first inauguration, Barack Obama rejected “as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” On his second day in office, he announced plans to close the Guantánamo detention facility within a year and to end immediately George W. Bush’s…
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Senate Intelligence Committee’s Report on CIA Interrogations

The recent Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA interrogations is a parade of horribles. Detainees by the dozen arrested wrongfully and later released, including innocent nobodies and even men with mental disabilities. Poorly vetted interrogators…
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The publication of the long-awaited summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s torture provides a useful moment to consider the lessons learned from this sorry chapter in American history and the steps that might be taken to avoid…
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The primary international treaty against torture, the Convention against Torture, which the United States ratified in 1994, contains two key requirements. First, it bans torture, without exception, as well as other inhumane treatment. Second, it requires…
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In any normal case, in any ordinary court, judges hold preliminary hearings to narrow the issues and move the case closer to trial. But there is nothing ordinary about the prosecution of the five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. And the…