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Reform Jewish Leader Urges Full Investigation of Treatment of U.S. Detainees
In response to publication of a new United Nations’ Report on Guantánamo Bay Detainees, and the publication of additional disturbing photos from Abu Ghraib prison, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued a statement noting that the new information “underscores the need for a comprehensive, independent commission to investigate and report on the detention and interrogation practices of U.S. military and intelligence agencies deployed in the global ‘war on terror.’”

Saperstein: New information “underscores the need for a comprehensive, independent commission to investigate and report on the detention and interrogation practices of U.S. military and intelligence agencies deployed in the global ‘war on terror.’”

Contact: Alexis Rice or Liz Kaplan, 202.387.2800

Washington, February 17, 2006– In response to publication of a new United Nations’ Report on Guantánamo Bay Detainees, and the publication of additional disturbing photos from Abu Ghraib prison, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Publication of the United Nations’ report on Guantánamo Bay Detainees (even taking into account issues of problematic methodology), coming the same week as publication of additional photos from the now-infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, drives home the need for a fuller investigation of U.S. interrogation and incarceration practices.

Those responsible for illegal practices must be held accountable for their actions so that we as a nation can cease to directly or implicitly support practices that violate the sacredness of human life.

Although the findings of the UN Report were limited by denial of access to prisoners currently at Guantánamo, the release of additional information based on interviews with former prisoners and lawyers representing current prisoners – and especially the detailed descriptions of disturbing interrogation and detention procedures – underscores the need for a comprehensive, independent commission to investigate and report on the detention and interrogation practices of U.S. military and intelligence agencies deployed in the global “war on terror.” At our Biennial Convention in Houston this November, the Union for Reform Judaism resolved to demand that the U.S. government authorize such an investigation, and we reiterate that demand now.

The anti-torture law introduced by Senator McCain as an amendment to the 2006 Defense Appropriations Act was a positive step toward reaffirming the United States’ role as a beacon of justice and respect for human rights in the world, and the Administration, with the support of military leaders and intelligence investigators, must now fully implement the law’s ban on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody.

As Jews, we believe that everyone, even prisoners, are created b’tzelem elohim – in the image of God – and as such are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. It is in this spirit that we continue to emphasize the need to bring an end to torture whenever and wherever it is practiced by our government and in our name.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.



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