Accomplishments: WSRCAT has become a well-known and highly regarded presence in the Puget Sound region. Our 2007 banner campaign was a major success. Our many public events have been well attended. Our opinion editorials have been read by thousands of people. Our pressing elected officials for legislative changes has met with some success. Our coalition building has connected several disparate groups, many of which we actively support. In response to the civil suit against the torture psychologists, Mitchell and Jessen, we organized a series of three events in Spokane and Seattle hosting prominent speakers. WSRCAT has won national recognition as one of the nation's most active, grassroots anti-torture organization.
Our Work: We work to educate and mobilize the public in opposition to torture and indefinite detention. We have held several public events, written opinion editorials and letters to the editor, organized vigils and demonstrations, pressured elected officials to act to end torture, and demanded accountability of government officials and contractors who authorized and implemented torture. We support full transparency related to past practices of the government, such as the publication of the full Senate Report on the CIA torture program and all legal memos, photos and executive orders related to torture. We have also worked 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. We support the work of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) and other human rights organizations committed to ending torture and inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners in the "war on terror," as well as within U.S. prisons. We stand against prolonged solitary confinement - a punishment now increasingly understood to be a form of torture - along with our opposition to other cruel practices in our system of mass incarceration.
WSRCAT applaud President Obama's 2009 executive order to end U.S. sponsored torture, as well as its 2015 congressional codification. Yet, throughout the eight years of Obama's presidency, WSRCAT strongly opposed the Obama administration's decision to supporess efforts to hold the perpetrators of torture accountable. Our position continues to call attention to the effects of impunity for crimes committed by high government officials: undermining the rule of law, facilitating public acceptance of torture, weakening America's standing in the world on matters related to human rights, and creating the plausible assumption for future government officials that their illegal acts will also go unpunished. As a legislative form of accountability, WSRCAT supported the investigation into CIA torture conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. We opposed efforts of the CIA to interfere with the work of the committee, and we continue to press for the release of the full Senate Report. We also call for the closing of Guantanamo prison, believing it to be a fundamentally unjust system of punishment, a stain on the nation, and a continuing threat to national security.
We remain vigilant in our opposition to continuing torture practices, especially by allied security forces operating with or without our knowledge or direct assistance of U.S. security and military officials. We continue to call for transparency of all detention and interrogation practices carried out by any unit of U.S. security forces, or any contractor with the U.S. government or allied governments.
Not least, we continue our educational efforts, realizing that most people know very little about what has actually occurred: how the torture program was organized, justified and carried out; the extensiveness of the program; what techniques were used employing torture and cruel and inhuman treatment; the strong international prohibitions against torture; and the physical and emotional consequences for the victims of torture.
We categorically oppose the prescription for amnesia issued by President Obama when he counseled that Americans needed to "look forward, not backward." Educating people about torture, indefinite detention, and their relation to other human rights violations remains at the forefront of our efforts.
Current Priorities: With the presidency of Donald Trump, WSRCAT is alert to several dangers related to torture and beyond: the damage inflicted by pro-torture rhetoric from the president and others; continued justifications of past torture, either by perpetrators or those who want to absolve them; the continued glorification of torture in movies and TV; the appointment of officials to high government positions who have been involved in past torture programs; escalation of the continuing wars in the greater Middle East which, despite claims of adherence to the laws of war, inevitably invite violations of human rights; the continuing reality and threat of terrorist attacks that feed a politics of fear, religious hatred, retaliation, and calls for loosening the legal and moral restraints on the use of violence.
WSRCAT condemns all practices that dehumanize individuals because of their ethnicity, creed or gender. We believe that any violation of human rights by our govnerment, along with stigmatizing and dehumanizing rhetoric, invites the violation of other human rights.
Principles: EDUCATE - AGITATE - ERADICATE
As an anti-torture organization, we assert that our human rights depend upon recognizing our innate human dignity, and that the following are essential elements toward building a just society based on human rights:
Ending torture and cruel treatment, first and foremost by U.S. government agencies, contractors, or allied security agencies; or by any other government or non-governmental entity.
Responding forcefully to all torture advocacy, opposing appointments to official positions of individuals who have directly or indirectly participated in torture, and contributing to the public rejection of torture without exception;
Ending impunity for the crime of torture;
Ending U.S. security arrangements, including all military aid and training with governments that commit torture and cruel treatment of prisoners;
Ending U.S. cooperation with any regime that commits human rights abuses against its citizens, people under its control, and civilians in war zones where they are militarily or covertly active, including supporting human rights efforts against repressive governments;
Ending mass incarceration and cruel conditions in U.S. prisons and jails;
Ending solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails;
Ending the death penalty;
Abolishing impunity for police and prison officers who employ unlawful violence against Black and Latino and all people; supporting policies to reform police and prison practices toward citizens and inmates;
Confronting Islamophobia, including related violent rhetoric and acts and policies that discriminate against Muslims;
Ending the growing rhetoric and reality of violence consistent with a political culture that embraces or tolerates torture, a rhetoric that turns adversaries into enemies, along with the politics of fear, resentment and ideologies of supremacy and degradation that breed violence.
These stated priorities lead us to an awareness of and support for civil society and other political endeavors related to:
Ending the counterproductive war on terrorism that fosters endless war, human rights abuses, and the ogoing militarization of American society; and contributing to a national conversation about more effective ways to provide security against terrorism both domistically and globally;
Reversing the militarization of American society, starting with a vast reduction in the military budget and a redirection of federal spending toward a peace economy based on social democratic principles of equality and public support for the right to a livable income for all, medical care for all, and free public education through college for all;
Confronting the acceptance and glorification of military violence; and supporting efforts that promote the peaceful resolution of conflict;
Abolishing nuclear weapons;
Abolishing assassination through drone warfare or other means;
Ending practices of state secrecy that cover up the commission of crimes and human rights abuses; supporting demands for transparency and open access to information;
Ending the impunity of powerful corporations, the military, and all those who collaborate in damaging the environment, harming human health and safety, and threatening natural preserves. Countering the denial of the reality of climate change;
In addition to these stated responsibilities, WSRCAT is committed to forming alliances and providing support for grassroots/civil society organizations confronting human and civil rights violations not specified here. We add our voice, and to the extent possible our actions, toward the goal of a more just and peaceful world.