Former FBI Director, General, Diplomat, Clergy Call for Presidential Commission on Detention

February 19, 2009


For Immediate Release
:

Contact: Matt Dorf, Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications, (202) 265-3000, (202) 669-6553(c)


WASHINGTON, D.C.
– Leading experts, including a former FBI director, an Army general who
investigated detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, and a former Under Secretary of State, today called upon
President Obama to appoint a non-partisan commission to fully investigate and examine the detention,
treatment, and transfer of detainees following the September 11th terrorist attacks.

The commission’s proposed mandate would allow it to identify detainee policy failures and their causes
in order to formulate recommendations to address problems identified in the report.

The group issued the following statement detailing their call to action:

“We urge President Obama to appoint a non-partisan commission of distinguished
Americans to examine, and provide a comprehensive report on, policies and actions
related to the detention, treatment, and transfer of detainees after 9/11 and the
consequences of those actions, and to make recommendations for future policy in this
area.”

The statement was signed by: Juan E. Méndez, President of the International Center for Transitional
Justice; Thomas Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; Judge William Sessions,
former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Major General Antonio M. Taguba, USA (Ret.);
and Rev. Dr. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. In
addition, 18 leading human rights organizations have endorsed the statement.

"The president has a responsibility to protect and defend Americans and unfortunately, many questions
remain unanswered as to whether the detention, transfer, and treatment of detainees following the
September 11th attacks were in the country's best interest," said Sessions, the former FBI director. "We
need to understand what happened and how to prevent any illegal actions from taking place in the future."

Pickering, the former Under Secretary of State said, “the new administration cannot be effective in
looking forward without a full accounting and understanding of how American policy got to where we are
today.” He added, “a non-partisan commission, removed from the burdensome barriers of politics, is a
well proven method of accomplishing these goals.”

The organizations endorsing this effort are: Amnesty International USA; the Brennan Center for Justice;
the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University, School of Law; the Center for the
Study of Human Rights in the Americas, University of California, Davis; the Center for Victims of Torture;
the Constitution Project; the Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley; Human Rights First;
Human Rights Watch; the International Center for Transitional Justice; the International Justice Network;
the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights; the Jewish Council for Public Affairs;
the National Institute of Military Justice; the National Religious Campaign Against Torture; the Open
Society Institute; Physicians for Human Rights; and the Rutherford Institute.


Statement on Commission Relating to Detention,
Treatment, and Transfer of Detainees
 
We urge President Obama to appoint a non-partisan commission of
distinguished Americans to examine, and provide a comprehensive
report on, policies and actions related to the detention, treatment, and
transfer of detainees after 9/11 and the consequences of those actions,
and to make recommendations for future policy in this area.

We believe all members of the commission must have reputations for putting the truth and the respect for
our nation's founding principles ahead of any partisan advantage. Members should be persons of
irreproachable integrity, credibility, and independence. Leading academics, retired judges and government
officials, retired military officers and intelligence officials and human rights experts are examples of the
types of profiles that should be sought. The President should solicit recommendations from the majority
and minority leaders in both houses in the process of choosing commission members.

Juan E. Méndez, President, the International Center for Transitional Justice; Special Advisor to the
Secretary-General of the UN on the Prevention of Genocide, 2004-2007; Commissioner, 2000-2003, and
President, 2002, of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American
States

Thomas Pickering, Vice Chairman, Hills & Co., Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, 1996-2000

Judge William Sessions, Partner, Holland and Knight LLP, Director of the FBI, 1987-1993, Judge, United
States District Court for the Western District of Texas, 1974-1987

Major General Antonio M. Taguba, USA (Retired)


Rev. Dr. John H. Thomas
, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
(Affiliations for Identification Only)

The following organizations have also endorsed the statement:

Amnesty International USA
The Brennan Center for Justice
The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University, School of Law
The Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, University of California, Davis
The Center for Victims of Torture
The Constitution Project
The Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch
The International Center for Transitional Justice
The International Justice Network
The Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs
The National Institute of Military Justice
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The Open Society Institute
Physicians for Human Rights
The Rutherford Institute