We also organized educational events featuring prominent speakers, met with our congressional representatives or their staffs, organized petition campaigns, wrote letters, organized or participated in vigils and other protests, and wrote opinion editorials and letters-to-the-editor.
During the Obama years (2009-2017), WSRCAT focused on the need for accountability for torture and ending indefinite detention at Guantanamo military prison. Although we applauded Obama's 2009 executive order ending U.S. torture (and codification by congress the following year), we nonetheless opposed the president's prescription for the country to "look forward not backward." Much of our work aimed at educating the public about how the Bush-Cheney administration secretly authorized torture, manipulated the law to provide cover, and how torture was implemented in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, secret black sites and other locations by the U.S. military, the CIA and through secret arrangements with allied security forces. We also worked to extend awareness of the longer history of U.S. torture throughout the Cold War and earlier. We highlighted the anti-torture efforts by investigative journalists, civil society organizations, and inside dissenters.
Our work on accountability for torture emphasized the importance of both criminal accountability and full transparency and public knowledge. We therefore actively worked for criminal investigation and prosecution and were critical of the Obama administration for not pursuing it. Criminal accountability remains a long-term goal. We also supported a non-partisan commission of inquiry and the work of Senate Intelligence Committee in its lengthy investigation into CIA torture, including demanding public release of the full Senate report. We held public educational events, wrote opinion editorials and letters-to-the-editor, organized vigils, and met with congressional representatives and staff.
During these eight years, we continued our efforts to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, release those who have not been charged with crimes, provide legal representation to all Guantanamo inmates, and end the deeply flawed military commission system for trying those charged with war crimes. WSRCAT also supports the work of NRCAT and others to end the prolonged solitary confinement, now increasingly recognized as a form of torture. We also oppose other inhumane practices associated with mass incarceration.
The Trump years have confronted WSRCAT with new challenges. First, we worked to publicize Trump's support for torture, his support for keeping Guantanamo open, and statements expressing his embrace of extreme violence. We took leadership in Washington State in opposing the nomination of Gina Haspel for Director of the CIA because of her supervision of torture at a secret CIA black site in Thailand. We also opposed the nomination of Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State based on his support for torture, his Islamophobia, and positions in favor of aggressive war. WSRCAT has increasingly engaged the danger of Islamophobia both within the administration and as advanced by powerful far-right groups.
In 2017, WSRCAT organized three major educational events and publicity highlighting the issues involved in the Spokane, Washington civil suit against psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen for their role in devising and carrying out CIA torture. Once again, accountability for torture was our primary issue.
Given rapidly changing developments and the unprecedented crisis in which we find ourselves, the leadership at WSRCAT has given careful thought and deliberation to the essential political question: What is to be done? We remain committed to our founding purpose: opposing torture; cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; and indefinite detention. The work of ending and preventing torture continues and we remain vigilant and will respond to events as they arise.
Beyond these commitments, WSRCAT condemns all practices that dehumanize people because of their ethnicity, creed or gender. We believe that any violation of human rights by our government, along with stigmatizing and dehumanizing rhetoric by government leaders and officials, invite the violation of other human rights as encoded in the The Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Torture and inhumane treatment appear in new forms and dehumanizing, racist rhetoric, some of which appears to invite violence, comes directly from the president himself and is rapidly spreading throughout sectors of American society.
Therefore, WSRCAT has decided upon a New Direction to respond to imminent threats to the basic tenets of an egalitarian, democratic and humane society. For a brief description of why WSRCAT stands against Trump's war on asylum seekers, migrants and immigrants, please see our Home Page, A New Direction for WSRCAT.