BRIAN TERREL – On Thursday, January 11, the sixteenth anniversary of the opening of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba was marked by a coalition of 15 human rights organizations gathered in Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House in Washington, DC.
WINSLOW MYERS – Torture and rape are unbearable enough, but a nuclear war anywhere could throw billions of people into the misery of worldwide starvation. It is a dangerous illusion to assume that our political leaders and foreign policy experts will magically prevent apocalypseâ€”that the generals on the front lines in Pakistan or anywhere else are sufficiently trained and disciplined never to fall into fatal error. With each further deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons, weapons that the United States and other nuclear powers are also developing, the temptation grows to cross the nuclear threshold. As Lao Tzu said, â€œif you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.â€ All nations share an interest in stepping back from a catastrophe where any â€œvictoryâ€ is a mirage that briefly disguises defeat for all.
PHYLLIS BENNIS – France is in mourning and in shock. We still donâ€™t know how many people were killed and injured. In fact, thereâ€™s a lot we still donâ€™t knowâ€”including who was responsible. The ISIS claim of responsibility tells us virtually nothing about who really planned or carried out the attacks; opportunist claims are an old story. But the lack of information hasnâ€™t prevented lots of assumptions about who is â€œobviouslyâ€ responsible and what should be done to them. Already the call is rising across Franceâ€”â€œthis time itâ€™s all-out war. But we do know what happens when cries of war and vengeance drown out all other voices; weâ€™ve heard them before.
JOHN LAFORGE – The U.S. Army School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia is a notorious training operation for Latin American officers and soldiers. Itâ€™s associated with some of the worst dictatorships and human rights violators in the hemisphere. Over the past 20 years, the grassroots School of Americas Watch (SOA Watch) has grown into one of the most dynamic, multi-generational, cross-continental movements against militarism in the Americas (SOAW.org/November).
CHARLES BUSCH: Our nation is presently involved in a debate about the sanctioned use of torture by the United States since 9/11. Is it enough to denounce torture and focus on the future, or do we need to investigate the past and seek accountability?
JORGE HEINE: The initial trickle of evidence about the many illegal ways in which Washington pursued its counterterrorist offensive from 2001 to 2008, first exposed by the pictures from Abu Ghraib in 2004, has turned into a veritable flood.
CONGRESSMAN ROBERT WEXLER: On May 14th, I participated in Judiciary Committee hearings where Attorney General Eric Holder said definitively: “If somebody was tortured to death, clearly a crime would have occurred.” My confidence in our Justice Department and American justice system was redeemed today while watching and listening to Attorney General Holder. There is now no doubt we are on the proper road toward re-establishing a nation that protects our citizens and respects human rights.