Under the Dome

Group urging action on torture report

An advocacy group is urging U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker to read the Senate Torture Report and ask his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, to do the same and then appoint a special prosecutor to investigate.

NC Stop Torture Now and supporters held a midday press conference Friday outside Walker’s office in Raleigh on the corner of New Bern Avenue and Person Street after a failed attempt to deliver the Senate Torture Report to his office. Joan Walsh of NC Stop Torture Now said Walker has so far declined her repeated requests for a meeting about the report and North Carolina’s inclusion in it.

The U.S. attorney’s spokesman Don Connelly said Walker was not at his office and the group could leave the report with security.

Human rights groups and lawyers across the nation rallied on Friday, in what they call an International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture, to demand a full investigation into the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation of prisoners since Sept. 11, 2001.

Much is outlined in a 6,700-page report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

They held signs in Raleigh on Friday stating: “Take a moral stand vs. torture,” “No to government secrecy,” “Like genocide & slavery, torture is always wrong,” and “North Carolina hosts CIA torture planes.”

Christina Cowger said the Senate report confirms that at least 17 detainees subjected to the CIA’s detention and interrogation methods were transported by Aero Contractors, based at a state-operated facility in Kinston and a county airport in Smithfield.

She added that her organization sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory in December about North Carolina’s role in the Senate report and asked the governor to order the State Bureau of Investigation to look into it and hold officials responsible for misuse of state facilities. McCrory has not responded, Cowger said.

Amnesty International, American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch wrote Lynch on Tuesday requesting she appoint a special prosecutor to investigate possible violations of federal criminal laws. The American Bar Association also weighed in this week, condemning the use of torture on prisoners in U.S. custody and urging the federal government to pursue an investigation into violations of the law in this area.

The Rev. Doug Long of the North Carolina Council of Churches spoke at the Friday news conference, saying there is no room for torture in a civilized society.

“Why wouldn’t our officials want to see this report? Because they know already what it says,” he said.

“They know if they read the report, they will not sleep very well at night. And that is not ignorance is bliss,” Long added.

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Twitter: @tayknopf