WHAT: The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is joining with other anti-torture and human rights groups to have a Call-Into-Congress week to urge Congress to reform the Military Commissions Act — to stop torture, to comply with the Geneva Conventions, and to provide due process to detainees.
WHEN: Monday, March 19th through Friday, March 23rd. NRCAT signed up to make calls on Tuesday, but if you can’t call on Tuesday, please call-in to your members of Congress any day next week. Your senators and representative can be reached through the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121.
WHY: Senator Dodd and Congressman Nadler have introduced bills in the Senate and House, respectively, to roll back the immoral, unfair and — many would say — unconstitutional provisions of the Military Commissions Act. Those bills have been referred to the Armed Services Committees of each house. We want Congress to know that we expect action on those bills, that it is a moral imperative that Congress correct the abuses allowed by the Military Commissions Act, and that the religious community cares deeply about these issues.
Sample Script for Your Phone Calls
Hi, I’m (name) from (location). I’m a member of (religious organization) and I’m calling to urge (name of Member of Congress) to help pass legislation this Congress to stop U.S. sponsored torture, to give due process to detainees, and to reform key provisions of The Military Commissions Act of 2006. As a person of faith, I believe it is a moral imperative for Congress to restore our core values of humane treatment and due process. I urge the senator to support bills S. 185 and S. 576 (or the representative to support bills H.R. 1415 and H.R. 1416).
Talking Points about the Military Commissions Act
The Military Commissions Act:
- Eliminates due process. This law removes the Constitutional due process right of habeas corpus for persons the President designates as unlawful enemy combatants. It allows our government to continue to hold hundreds of prisoners more than four years without charges, with no end in sight.
- Rejects core American values. Habeas corpus, the basic right to have a court decide if a person is being lawfully imprisoned, is what distinguishes America from many other countries. To do away with this American value makes us more like those we are fighting against. It is time to restore due process, defend the Constitution, and protect what makes America great.
- Permits coerced evidence. The act permits convictions based on evidence that was literally beaten out of a witness, or obtained through other abuse by either the federal government or by other countries.
- Turns a blind eye to past abuses. Government officials who authorized or ordered illegal acts of torture and abuse would receive retroactive immunity for their crimes, providing them with a €˜get out of jail free’ card.
- Makes the president his own judge and jury. Under the Military Commissions Act, the president has the power to define what is — and what is not — torture and abuse, even though the Geneva Conventions already provide us with a guide.
- Congress must fix the Military Commissions Act. By giving any president the unchallenged power to decide which non-citizen is an enemy of our country — and eliminating habeas corpus due process for them, we allow the government to imprison people indefinitely without charging them with a crime. It is time for Congress to restore due process, defend the Constitution and protect what makes us Americans.
This is a terrific opportunity to have your voice heard. Thank you so much.
Jeanne E. Herrick-Stare, Chair, Coordinating Committee, National Religious Campaign Against Torture
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