News Release Archive - 2005

“Crude Designs”: New Report Charges Big Oil “Rip-Off” of Iraq

GREG MUTTITT
The British group PLATFORM has just released a report: “Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth.” Among the group’s findings:

· “Current Iraqi oil policy will allocate the development of at least 64 percent of Iraq’s reserves to foreign oil companies.”
· “The estimated cost to Iraq over the life of the new oil contracts is $74 to $194 billion, compared with leaving oil development in public hands.”
· “The contracts would guarantee massive profits to foreign companies, with rates of return of 42 to 162 percent. The kinds of contracts that will provide these returns are known as production sharing agreements (PSAs). PSAs have been heavily promoted by the U.S. government and oil majors and have the backing of senior figures in the Iraqi Oil Ministry. However PSAs last for 25-40 years, are usually secret and prevent governments from later altering the terms of the contract.”

“Crude Designs” author and lead researcher, Greg Muttitt, said today: “The form of contracts being promoted is the most expensive and undemocratic option available. Iraq’s oil should be for the benefit of the Iraqi people, not foreign oil companies.”

He continued: “The new Iraqi constitution opened the way for much greater foreign involvement in Iraq’s oilfields. Negotiations with oil companies are already underway, ahead of elections in December and prior to the passing of a new Petroleum Law. This report calls for full and open debate in Iraq about the way oil resources are to be developed, not 30-year deals negotiated behind closed doors.”

Muttitt added: “Experience in other countries shows that oil companies generally get the upper hand in PSA negotiations with governments. The companies will inevitably use Iraq’s current instability to push for highly advantageous terms and lock Iraq to those terms for decades.”
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JAMES PAUL
Executive director of the Global Policy Forum, a co-publisher of the report, Paul said today: “Greg Muttitt’s bombshell paper confirms what many have long suspected — the big U.S. and U.K. companies have enormous interest in Iraq’s giant untapped oilfields. He shows clearly how the companies have been angling to gain control of those fields and now, under the occupation, they are closing in on their goal. Production Sharing Agreements, the companies’ favorite legal ploy, have already been negotiated with pliant Iraqi officials. Likely to be rushed through after the December 2005 elections, these contracts may lock Iraq into decades-long arrangements that siphon as much as $200 billion from the Iraqi government into company coffers.”
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STEVE KRETZMANN
Executive director of Oil Change International, a co-publisher of the report, Kretzmann said today: “For years, we’ve listened to the Bush administration deride and deny the notion that oil had anything to do with the war in Iraq.”
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ERIC LEAVER
Leaver is a research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, also a co-publisher of the “Crude Designs” report.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Iraq Debate

MICHAEL HOFFMAN
Hoffman is a co-founder and national coordinator of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He was in the U.S. Marine Corps for over four years and was part of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
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NORMAN SOLOMON
Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, is the author of the new book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He writes in a piece today: “The failure of the Bush administration to show military progress in Iraq has made the war politically vulnerable. But that line of critique leaves a somewhat clear field for the White House to keep claiming — however implausibly — that U.S. military forces and their Iraqi government allies are turning the corner and can look forward to Iraqization of the war. Today’s White House line is akin to the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and Vietnamization talk 35 years ago. … With the underpinnings of war prerogatives unchallenged, a predictable response is that the war must be fought more effectively. … Countless pundits and politicians continue to decry the Bush administration’s failure to come up with an effective strategy in Iraq. But the war has not gone wrong. It was always wrong. And the basic problem with the current U.S. war effort is that it exists.”
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ROBERT JENSEN
Jensen is author of the book Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity. He is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas. Jensen said today: “The call for withdrawal signals that people are willing to face the reality of the current situation in Iraq, which is an important shift. But the nature of the debate signals that some things haven’t changed — neither mainstream Democrats nor Republicans are willing to face an honest discussion about why top policymakers in both parties wanted a war. Whatever the lies told about WMDs, the core of the U.S. motivation to invade Iraq was the drive to control the politics, and hence the energy resources, of the Middle East.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Wal-Mart Under Scrutiny

This week, the documentary “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” has been released theatrically, along with thousands of home and community screenings of the DVD version.

LIZA FEATHERSTONE
Featherstone is the author of Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Workers’ Rights At Wal-Mart. She said today: “Most people wouldn’t like to live in a crime-ridden neighborhood, with no police on the streets, but that’s the situation Wal-Mart employees face every day when they come to work. The company’s business model depends on breaking the law. When it comes to workers’ rights, our government has completely abdicated its law enforcement role, so Wal-Mart is never seriously punished for its actions. The company is getting away with child labor, race and sex discrimination, as well as violations of wage-and-hour and freedom of association laws.”
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JAMES HEINTZ
Heintz is associate director and assistant research professor at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He said today: “Using a strategy of ‘everyday low prices’ aimed at low- and middle-income families, Wal-Mart has expanded into developing countries, including Mexico and China. … However, Wal-Mart depends on its enormous market power to maintain these ‘everyday low prices.’ … The huge global purchasing power of Wal-Mart allows it to demand rock-bottom prices from suppliers who capture a small fraction of the total value Wal-Mart realizes. The pressure to continually cut costs, while keeping Wal-Mart profitable, also pushes down incomes and keeps working conditions substandard as suppliers specialize in low-value added production.”
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HAROLD MEYERSON
Meyerson is editor-at-large of the American Prospect. He writes in an upcoming issue of the magazine: “In 2002 the company sent [Jim Bill] Lynn to Central America, in a new position in which he was to report on any abusive labor practices he came upon in the factories that make the clothes Wal-Mart puts on its shelves. … Lynn discovered factories whose fire doors were padlocked from the outside, and where women workers were fired if they turned up pregnant. … He shot reports back to the home office. He assumed things would change. Instead, Lynn soon found that the company was more alarmed by the existence of his reports than by the substance of them. … Indeed, he believed he was doing just what the company expected of him, right up to the moment when he was fired.”
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ROBERT L. BOROSAGE
Borosage is co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future. He said today: “If Wal-Mart’s size is a problem, its policies are a threat. Wal-Mart is the model ‘low-road’ corporation in the global economy. Its efficiency is celebrated; but its exploitation is caustic. The average pay of a Wal-Mart employee is $8.23 per hour, or an average yearly income of $14,000 — not enough to lift a family out of poverty. … But Wal-Mart doesn’t merely follow the low road; it drives its suppliers and its competitors into the same race. … In China, Wal-Mart pushes its suppliers to lower their costs, generating sweatshops in which young workers — primarily women — are forced to work grotesque hours at subsistence wages. According to the Washington Post, Wal-Mart even pressures its suppliers to pay less than the Chinese minimum wage.”
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CHRISTOPHER HAYES
Hayes is a senior editor of In These Times. He said today: “There’s little secret to Wal-Mart’s success. The company will simply do whatever it takes to keep workers from organizing. ‘Staying union free is a full-time commitment,’ reads one of the company’s training manuals.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Bush in Asia

THOMAS KIM
Kim is acting executive director of the Korea Policy Institute and professor of politics and international relations at Scripps College. He can address the six-party talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis, South Korean attitudes toward the Bush administration and the Bush administration’s relationship with the South Korean government.

KARIN J. LEE
Lee is senior fellow at the East Asia Policy Education Project of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. She can speak about policies of the White House and Congress toward North Korea and South Korea, and comment generally about U.S. policy toward China, except for trade.

HERBERT DOCENA
A research associate at the group Focus on the Global South, Docena can comment on peace and security issues and U.S. foreign policy in Asia. He is based in Bangkok.
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ROBERT WEIL
Author of the book Red Cat, White Cat: China and the Contradictions of “Market Socialism,” Weil was in China last year.

JOHN M. MILLER
National coordinator for the East Timor & Indonesia Action Network, Miller can address U.S. government cooperation with the Indonesian military.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Scrutinizing the Koch Deal to Buy Georgia-Pacific

Bloomberg reported Monday: “Koch Industries Inc. agreed to buy Georgia-Pacific Corp. for $13.2 billion … to become the largest privately held company in the U.S.” But some underlying political implications of the move have not yet been publicly addressed.

The following analysts are available for interviews:

BOB WILLIAMS
A project manager at the Center for Public Integrity, Williams is co-author of the report “Koch’s Low Profile Belies Political Power: Private Oil Company Does Both Business and Politics With the Shades Drawn.” Williams said today: “Koch is a huge company — bigger than Microsoft, but few people have heard of it. It is very politically active, in campaign contributions, lobbying and, probably most importantly, founding and funding right-leaning libertarian think tanks. … Both industries [oil and lumber] have environmental challenges. Koch is very solicitous of its many friends in Washington; and when it gets in an environmental bind, it is not shy about calling on those friends in Washington.”

The 2004 report noted: “Despite its size and political largess, Koch is able to dodge the limelight because it is privately held, meaning that nearly all of its business dealings are known primarily only by the company and the Internal Revenue Service.”

“Although it is both a top campaign contributor and spends millions on direct lobbying, Koch’s chief political influence tool is a web of interconnected, right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups funded by foundations controlled and supported by the two Koch brothers.”

“Koch has had plenty of run-ins with government regulators and other legal problems in recent years. Through it all, the company has shown a remarkable knack for getting criminal charges dropped and huge potential penalties knocked down.”

“Koch has also shown a remarkable ability to get rid of or modify environmental policies and other government rules it doesn’t like.”
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SCOTT SILVER
Silver is founder and executive director of Wild Wilderness, a conservation and recreation issues-related organization. He said today: “Amongst the most important, visible and powerful proponents of public lands privatization are the Cato Institute, the Property and Environment Research Center (formerly known as Political Economy Research Center) and the Reason Institute. Koch funds have played a major role in the operation of each of these organizations.

“Today, in the Department of Interior, Interior Secretary Norton comes to government having been a Senior Fellow at PERC. Interior Assistant Secretary [P. Lynn] Scarlett comes to government having been the Executive Director of Reason.

“Simply stated, the Koch family is amongst the most powerful and influential movers and shakers promoting privatization in America. Over decades they and their money created an extensive infrastructure of Libertarian and Free-Market think tanks from which President Bush has drawn to staff the highest rungs of the land management agencies.

“Georgia-Pacific does extensive logging on public lands. Private logging of America’s National Forests is a heavily subsidized form of corporate welfare. Logging companies such as Georgia-Pacific strip lands bare, destroy vast acreages and pay only a small fee to the federal government in proportion to what they take from the public. They do not operate in the Free-Market when they log public forests.

“Now that GP has been acquired by Koch, the circle is completed. The ideologues running the land management agencies are the product of the think tanks created by, and funded by, the Koch family. Those ideologues are now in a position to permit Koch’s newest acquisition, Georgia-Pacific, to further rape and pillage the public’s lands. These think tanks promote the Free-Market ideal when it serves their interests to do so, but in reality, they are firmly committed to the ideal of enriching private interests at enormous direct cost to the American taxpayer.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Rewriting How the War Began

President George W. Bush stated on Friday: “While it’s perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. … [Critics] know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein.”

The following nuclear policy analysts are available for interviews:

IMAD KHADDURI
Khadduri worked on the Iraq nuclear weapons program beginning in 1981; he left Iraq in the late 1990s. He is author of the book Iraq’s Nuclear Mirage: Memoirs and Delusions and currently edits the “Free Iraq” blog. In November 2002, Khadduri wrote the article “Iraq’s Nuclear Non-Capability.” Before the invasion of Iraq, he warned that if the U.S. occupied Iraq “rivers of blood” would flow. He said today: “The lack of outrage on the part of people in the U.S. — as well as in Arab countries — over the lies leading to war and what is happening now in Iraq is amazing…”
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JOHN BURROUGHS
Burroughs, executive director of the New York-based Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, said today: “The International Atomic Energy Agency’s head Mohamed ElBaradei was very clear in early 2003 that there was no evidence of a reconstituted Iraqi nuclear program. ElBaradei said that they needed only three more months to confirm the absence of a program, but they didn’t get that three months because Bush started the invasion. Hans Blix, head of UNMOVIC, responsible for chemical and biological weapons inspections, was saying at the same time that they had not found any programs or weapons but that there were still uncertainties regarding Iraq’s accounting for destruction of prohibited materials and that they wanted to continue their inspections.

“It was then and is now flatly untrue to say that the world was agreed that there were mass destruction weapons or programs in Iraq; the responsible UN agencies were not at all reaching that conclusion.” Burroughs is co-author of the piece “The UN Charter and the Iraq War,” which appears in the new book Neo-Conned! Again. Burroughs participated in an analysis, organized by the Institute for Public Accuracy, of Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address which scrutinized many of these issues as Bush was making his claims for war.
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2003 State of the Union Analysis
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Bombings in Jordan

MICHAEL BERG
Michael Berg’s son Nicholas Berg was killed in Iraq in 2004.
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NASEER ARURI
Aruri is chancellor professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He has written extensively on the Mideast and U.S. policy in that region, including the book Jordan: A Study in Political Development.

ALI ABUNIMAH
Abunimah is founder of the Electronic Intifada. He has family in Jordan.
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LORETTA NAPOLEONI
Napoleoni is the author of Insurgent Iraq: Al-Zarqawi and Al-Qaeda’s New Generation and Terror Inc. — Tracing the Money Behind Global Terrorism. She is in the U.S. until Monday.
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MOUNZER SLEIMAN
Sleiman is Washington bureau chief for Almustaqbal Al-Arabi, a monthly magazine.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

· Extending Occupation and Oil Plans · Chalabi in D.C. · House Vote on WHIG

JAMES PAUL
Paul, executive director of the Global Policy Forum, which monitors the United Nations, has written several reports about oil including “Oil in Iraq: The Heart of the Crisis.” He said today: “On Tuesday, the Security Council adopted a resolution extending throughout 2006 the UN mandate of the ‘Multinational Force’ in Iraq — that is, the U.S. occupation. … Many squeamish Council members wanted to postpone Council action until after the upcoming Iraqi elections, but the U.S. and the U.K. twisted arms, issued threats and got their way.

“The occupiers are doubtless worried that the post-election government will not be as enthusiastic about occupation as the current one. Washington and London plan to fast-track billions of dollars worth of oil contracts as soon as possible in the new year and well before the new parliament gets its political footing. Ahmed Chalabi, now chairman of Iraq’s Energy Council and czar of the country’s oil riches, has been preparing for this moment for a long time. He and his cronies have prepared a new oil law, highly favorable to the likes of Exxon and BP, and they will submit it immediately to the new parliament. Under the watchful eye of the ‘multinational force,’ contracts for fabulous oilfields like Majnoon are being readied and will soon be signed.”
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KEVIN ZEESE
Director of Democracy Rising, one of a number of groups organizing a protest at 2 p.m. in front of the American Enterprise Institute where Ahmed Chalabi will be speaking today, Zeese said: “Chalabi was a source of many of the bogus claims used by the White House to sell the war. He is visiting Washington, D.C., for a week, renting out six suites at the Ritz Carlton in Georgetown. He has planned a private meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney. He is visiting at a moment when leaders in the Senate and House have begun demanding an investigation into the fraudulent case for war that he played a prominent role in concocting.”
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ROBERT DREYFUSS
Dreyfuss, who wrote the article “Tinker, Banker, NeoCon, Spy” about Chalabi, said today: “Like Richard Nixon, Ahmed Chalabi continues to reinvent himself again and again. The latest reincarnation for the convicted embezzler is as a mediator between the United States and Iran. Blamed for manufacturing intelligence … for war, accused of leaking secret U.S. intelligence to Iran, Chalabi now wants to be Iraq’s next prime minister. Iraqis say Chalabi has millions of dollars that he is spreading around to buy votes in the scheduled December 15 election.” Dreyfuss is author of the new book Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam and the current cover story in the American Prospect, “Bush’s Spook: The Destructive Reign of CIA Director Porter Goss.”
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DAVID SWANSON
Swanson is co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition, comprised of a number of veteran and peace groups seeking key facts about the buildup to the war in Iraq. Swanson said today: “Wednesday the House International Relations Committee is scheduled to debate and vote on a resolution of inquiry into the White House Iraq Group. This will be the first vote Congress takes related to the war since Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Lewis Libby was indicted. The WHIG produced bogus information about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction program.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

With Snow Forecast in Kashmir, Tens of Thousands at Risk

As the official death-toll in the South Asian earthquake reached 73,000, the United Nations and the International Red Cross have issued an urgent appeal, warning that tens of thousands remain at risk for freezing to death due to a shortage of funds for shelter and heating. Snow is forecast for this week.

JAMES E. JENNINGS
President of Conscience International, Jennings has just returned from Kashmir with a medical team that performed emergency surgery, provided tents and blankets, and helped with evacuations by helicopter. He said today: “Our team treated scores of injured people carried on cots for days down mountain trails before they arrived at field clinics where they could be stabilized and evacuated by air. The staggering number of those killed, injured, or made homeless in the Kashmir earthquake is likely to increase substantially as winter arrives in the southern Himalayas. Over 73,000 deaths have been recorded in Pakistan alone, not counting those in India and Afghanistan. About 1.2 million of the 3.5 million homeless people are children, and are particularly vulnerable to the cold and snow. Seven thousand schools in the North West Frontier Provinces of Pakistan have been destroyed, and the number of villages affected is in the thousands. Humanitarian agencies consider the catastrophe as one of the most challenging ever because of the difficult terrain and the logistical problem of reaching remote villages. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned about a second wave of deaths from exposure and disease. Unfortunately, the UN appeal for the Kashmir crisis has generated only 24 percent of the needed funding.”
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ANURADHA MITTAL
Mittal is founder and executive director of the Oakland Institute. She said today: “As the world community responds sluggishly to the United Nations aid appeal for $550 million for earthquake victims in Pakistan, we might once again lose the ‘golden hour’ and tens of thousands more might lose their lives as they freeze to death. The donor countries have not yet learnt from famine in Niger, where failure to respond in time increased the cost of intervention from $1 per child per day in October 2004 to $80 per child per day in July this year. International aid remains a case of too little too late.”
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EMILIE PARRY
Emilie Parry is Oxfam America’s deputy director of humanitarian response. She said today: “If resources are not quickly made accessible to isolated communities so they can make it through the winter, the risk of death and unnecessary suffering is imminent. People need winterized tents, medicine, clothing and blankets. But there has not been the kind of funding support, both from institutional donors and private donors, so necessary for the scale of this disaster. Overall relief efforts are threatened in the short term if those funds don’t come in, and that’s not taking into account the enormous needs people will have as they struggle in the months ahead to rebuild their communities. The emotional trauma from a disaster of this magnitude, which took the lives of an estimated 73,000 people in Pakistan and more than 1,300 in India’s portion of Kashmir, cannot be overstated.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Responses to Bush’s Claim: “We Do Not Torture”

President Bush was asked today: “Mr. President, there has been a bit of an international outcry over reports of secret U.S. prisons in Europe for terrorism suspects. Will you let the Red Cross have access to them? And do you agree with Vice President Cheney that the CIA should be exempt from legislation to ban torture?”

Bush replied: “…We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture….”

MICHAEL RATNER
President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Ratner is co-author of the book Guantánamo: What the World Should Know. He said today: “Of course they torture. First the administration defined torture so narrowly that torture according to them was not torture — but of course it was. And now that the administration has broadened the definition again it still insists on employing coercive interrogation techniques that constitute torture — water boarding is a method they employ — they claim it merely amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment — but the world knows it is torture. And of course the administration insists on the right to use cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”
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JENNIFER HARBURY
Harbury is the director of the Stop Torture Permanently (STOP) Campaign and author of the recent book Truth, Torture, and the American Way. She said today: “The photographic evidence from Abu Ghraib, reports from human rights organizations, declassified U.S. government documents and various media accounts show that the U.S. government is in fact illegally torturing people in violation of both international law and domestic U.S. law.”
Harbury’s husband Efraín Bámaca Velásquez was secretly detained and tortured to death in Guatemala in the early 1990s. Her long efforts to save his life led to the official disclosure that his killers were Guatemalan intelligence officers serving as paid CIA informants or “assets.”
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KEVIN MURRAY
Murray is director of advocacy and communications for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, an international human rights organization. He said today: “Incredibly, President Bush continues to assert publicly that the United States does not use torture while his administration’s behavior proves just the opposite. The president has threatened to veto the annual defense spending bill if it includes a Senate-approved amendment to prohibit torture. And Vice President Cheney is pressuring Congress to exempt the CIA from any anti-torture legislation.

“Moreover the use of torture as an interrogation technique does nothing to aid the war against terrorism. The reality, as evidenced over the past two years by the war in Iraq, is that U.S.-sponsored torture — whether committed by the CIA, the U.S. military, or by proxies in other countries — does not yield reliable intelligence, encourages anti-American hatred, and endangers our own soldiers if they should become prisoners.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167