NORTH CAROLINA STOP TORTURE NOWPO Box 12707
Raleigh, NC 27605
(evenings and weekends, or messages during business hours)
North Carolina Stop Torture Now – An Incomplete Digest of Noteworthy Efforts and Events
December 28, 2014 – The News & Observer reported on Johnston County elected officials contention that Aero Contractors is a "good corporate citizen," and that " ... what (Aero) is doing at the airport is legal." The officials were quesioned as part of The News & Observer's follow-up on local connections highlighted by release of the summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's torture report.
December 19, 2014 – North Carolina Stop Torture Now hosted a press conference and vigil covered by the News & Observer to call upon North Carolina’s elected officials to investigate our state’s role in torture in light of Senate torture report revelations. Featured Speakers were: Rev. George Reed, Executive Director, North Carolina Council of Churches, Raleigh; Prof. Deborah Weissman, Reef Ivey II Distinguished Professor, UNC School of Law, Chapel Hill; Matthew Hoh, Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy; veteran of the Marine Corps and the Department of State; former Director of the Afghanistan Study Group, Raleigh; Chuck Fager, North Carolina Stop Torture Now, retired Executive Director of Quaker House in Fayetteville, Durham.
December 17, 2014 – The Independent Weekly's Bob Geary reported on our efforts in light of the release of the summary of the Senate torture report.
December 16, 2014 – The News & Observer published an op-ed by NCSTN activists Allyson Caison and Josh McIntyre, " Torture and NC culpability: the state owes apologies, restitution," a summary of more than nine years of our group's work to achieve accountability for state and local government support of the United States rendition, interrogation and detention (RDI) program in light of the release of the summary of a Senate report on U.S. torture.
December 15, 2014 – Steven Watt observed in an ACLU blog that " ... the Obama administration has so far declined to acknowledge Khaled (El-Masri)'s wrongful detention and abuse, and State Department lawyers have yet to respond to his petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, filed over six years ago. Protecting legitimate state secrets wasn't the CIA's primary interest. It invoked secrecy to cover up its embarrassing mistakes—which included egregious human rights violations—and to avoid accountability. Now that the CIA's atrocities are a matter of public record, the government should take responsibility for them and make amends." (Emphasis added -Web Editor.)
December 12, 2014 – CIA Director John Brennan acknowledged that the program of harsh interrogation methods—which he refused to call torture, in contrast to the word used by both President Obama and Senator Feinstein (D-Calif.)—continued until December 2007, two years after NC Stop Torture first aired concerns to state- and local elected officials. Brennan also confessed that he could not prove the techniques themselves had elicited crucial information that thwarted dangerous plots. Brennan also continued a pattern of scapegoating field operatives rather than confronting the failure of leadership at the highest levels of government: "I certainly agree that there were times when CIA officers exceeded the policy guidance that was given and the authorized techniques that were approved and determined to be lawful," he said.
December 11, 2014 – The News & Observer reports specifically on the Senate torture report's confirmation of North Carolina's role in the extraordinary rendition program and notes that NC Stop Torture Now will continue to press for a full disclosure of North Carolina's role and urge state and local governments to formally apologize to victims and survivors.
December 9, 2014 – The Senate Intelligence Committee finally released a 525-page summary of its report on the U.S. torture program. Seventeen of the CIA detainees named in the Senate report were secretly transported by Aero Contractors aircraft based in Smithfield (N313P) or Kinston, (N379P) NC. However, 18 more named survivors and victims transported to torture by the CIA using Aero Contractors planes and pilots do not appear in the released portion of the Senate report.
November 20, 2014 – Professor Deborah Weissman was featured on the WUNC 91.5 FM program The State of Things discussing solitary confinement as torture, a report of the human rights policy seminar endorsed by NC Stop Torture Now.
November 12, 2014 – The United States admitted to a United Nations panel that it tortured, and confirmed steps taken since to prohibit cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment abraod including places where it exercises effective control such the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as well as American-flagged ships and aircraft.
October 13, 2014 – McLatchy News reported on a piece republished in the Raleigh News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer on North Carolina Stop Torture Now efforts to gather signatures on a letter of apology to Abou ElKassim Britel and on the Human Rights clinic at the UNC School of Law efforts to present a petition to the United Nations rapporteur for torture, Juan E. Méndez, with supporting documents, including flight records, indicate that the plane was flown for the CIA by Aero Contractors from Pakistan to Morocco, where U.S. officials and contractors transferred him to Temara prison, where he was tortured. The petition asked Méndez to “take the appropriate steps to urge the United States, Pakistan, Morocco and Italy to acknowledge the harm they have caused Mr. Britel and to offer him an apology and other means of repair and redress as may be appropriate.”
October 5, 2014 – A team of outreach and education activists gathered 59 signatures were collected on the Britel apology, as well as 28 cards for release of the Senate torture report, 19 cards urging state law enforcement to open an investigation into North Carolina's links to the U.S. Torture program at Chapel Hill's annual arts festival, FestiFall.
September 27, 2014 – NC Stop Torture Now activists and allies again cleaned the highway along Swift Creek road, adjacent to the newly refurbished Johnston County Airport and even spent some time talking with airport director Ray Blackmon and his wife, her were sprucing up the entrance to the airport with addition of ornamental plants.
September 22, 2014 – Represenatives of NC Stop Torture Now met with Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC, 3rd District) to brief him and his staff on efforts to work for torture accountability in North Carolina.
August 6, 2014 – A 23-year-old woman tells the story of her rendition at age 12. Her father was an opponent of the Libyan dictator, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
July 31, 2014 – The White House sought to distance itself from a State Department policy draft inadvertently leaked to the Associated Press that characterized the U.S. rendition, detention and interrogation program as clearly illegal and something of " ... which no American is proud."
July 26, 2014 – The Los Angeles Times featured a piece by human rights lawyer Joseph Margulies explains that the European Court of Human Rights decision awarding 230,000 euros compensation to two victims and survivors as " ... a rebuke of the entire criminal conspiracy that was the "extraordinary rendition" program."
July 24, 2014 – The European Court of Human Rights found that Poland violated its obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights for its complicity in the United States' running of a CIA black site and high-value detainees program on Polish territory.
July 11, 2014 – UNC School of Law Human Rights Cliinic work advocating on behalf of Aboul ElKassim Britel featured in the school's online journal.
July 11, 2014 – France 24 airs an exclusive interview with Abou ElKassim Britel regarding his life during and since his capture, torture and decade of detention.
June 29, 2014 – NC Stop Torture Now formally launches campaign to apologize to one survivor of the extraordinary rendition program.
June 24, 2014 – Nationally noted theologian Dr. David Gushee spoke to a crowd of about 50 at Pullen Memorial on the topic of "Coming to Terms with Torture: Truth, Accountability, and Reconciliation." He previewed themes of his talk on on the WUNC 91.5 FM program The State of Things. Also offering remarks were Rev. Luke Powery, Dean of Duke Chapel, and NC Stop Torture Now's Coordinator Christina Cowger. Gushee's message was also featured in a story published June 26 by the News & Observer and also carrried by the Stars & Stripes, a news publication targeting an U.S. military audience.
June 21, 2014 – A dozen anti-torture activists endured ticks and dodged poison ivy while collecting 11 bags of trash and two bags of recyclable materials from the roadway adjacent the Johnston County Airport, headquarters of Aero Contractors, Ltd., a hub for aircraft and flight crews that operated planes implicated in the U.S. program of extraordinary rendition.
May 23, 2014 – Nearly two-dozen activists gathered to call on President Obama to keep his promise to close Guantánamo, as coverd in mainstream media at ABC-11 television and the Raleigh News & Observer.
April 10, 2014 – One week after the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted to release a summary of their investigation into U.S. treatment of detainees, a handful of activists gathered at the NC Department of Justice to remind Attorney General Roy Cooper that he has a special obligation to investigate the North Carolina links to enforced disappearance, secret detention and torture the report is nearly certain to document. Although representatives of the Attorney General's office earlier received documenation of human rights abuse facilitated by a tenant on state-owned property, the state's chief law enforcement officer continues to refer advocates to the U.S. attorney or local prosecutors.
April 3, 2014 – North Carolina's U.S. Senator Richard Burr joined a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) that voted 11-3 to declassify and publicly release a 400-page summary of its 6,300-page report on U.S.-directed torture in the post-9/11 era. Sen. Burr's vote ended his long silence on the matter, and his staff acknowledges that the Senator considered the most recent appeal from faith leaders (below) in making his decision. Yet, the Senator remains convinced -- in spite of the report's expected findings and the wisdom of experienced interrogators -- that " ... the CIA’s detention program saved lives and played a vital role in ensuring that our nation had the intelligence it needed to successfully combat al-Qa’ida in the days following 9/11 and in the years since ... "
April 1, 2014 – The News & Observer published a guest opinion authored by Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, head of the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, and the Rev. Steve Hickle, president-elect of the North Carolina Council of Churches, urging North Carolina's U.S. Sen. Richard Burr to in favor of releasing the Senate Select Intelligence Committee report on
March 8, 2014 – About a dozen activists gathered at the Johnston County airport and scattered in both directions along Swift Creek Road to scour the shoulders and drainage ditches for litter. The effort is part of North Carolina Stop Torture Now's commitment to seeing not only that the highway is clean, but an opportunity to remind Johnston County motorists and residents that the road to a clean community conscience must travel through a thorough investigation of the airport's link to the immoral, illegal and ineffective U.S. program of enforced disappearance, secret detention and torture. Likewise, victims and survivors of extraordinary rendition are long overdue to received a public apology from every level of government -- from the Johnston County Airport Authority, to the county commissioners, and including the State of North Carolina and the U.S. government.
January 16, 2014 – Nearly 25 individuals from religious and veterans groups gathered to urge Burr to support release of Senate report on torture at a vigil near the Senator's offices in Winston-Salem. The event featured remarks from CIA veteran Ray McGovern, and was covered in the Winston-Salem Journal.
January 6, 2014 – North Carolina Stop Torture Now partnered with Veterans for Peace, CloseGitmo.net, and PopularResistance.org to sponsor placement of a 28-ft by 12-ft billboard just 4 miles east of I-95 on Hwy 70 in Johnston County, NC, shown at left, depicting two kneeling black hooded prisoners and urging the United States to: "Close Guantánamo!"
November 9, 2013 – The News & Observer published an op-ed from North Carolina native, and former Guantánamo chief prosecutor, retired Colonel Morris Davis urging Senator Hagan to continue her support for closing the prison camp.
November 2, 2013 – NCSTN activists gather at the Johnston County Airport for another quarterly clean up of Swift Creek Road.
October 25, 2013 – A national report by McClatchy News detailing Senator Burr's reply to 190 faith leaders urging him to to support release of a 6,000-page, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on detainee treatment in the post 9/11 era featured comments from the NC Council of Churches executive directorRev. J. George Reed and NCSTN leader Christina Cowger. Sen. Burr continues to resist release of the report due to what he considers " ... factual inaccuracies contained within the report, including inaccurate information relating to the details of the interrogation program and other information provided by detainees ..."
October 6, 2013 – NCSTN leader Peggy Misch organized an outreach effort at Chapel Hill's annual arts festival and street fair, Festifall. She and others gathered signatures on petitions, collected donations and engaged passers-by with educational material on North Carolina's role in supporting the U.S. program of enforced disappearance, secret detention and torture during the post-9/11 era.
September 23, 2013 – The American Baptist Press reported on the public release of an Aug. 27 letter from 190 faith leaders to North Carolina's U.S. Senator Richard Burr urging him to support release of a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on treatment of detainees during the post-9/11 era.
September 22, 2013 – The News & Observer echoes local faith leaders in urging U.S. Senator Burr to support release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on detainee treatment during the post-9/11 era, noting that: "Burr, a strong supporter of the military, should not confuse withholding the facts on torture with protecting those who defend the nation. Making the report public will address a source of tension and make the world safer for them and all Americans."
August 27, 2013 – With funding from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, the North Carolina Council of Churches organized a letter signed by more than 190 clergy, faith leaders and lay supporters urging U.S. Senator Richard to support release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on treatment of detainees and terrorism suspects during the post-9/11 era.
July 4, 2013 – NCSTN Activists and allies gathered signatures on a petition to U.S. Senator Richard Burr urging the prompt and least-redacted release of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee on U.S. Treatment and Interrogation of Detainees in the post-9/11 era during a July 4 celebration hosted by the community of Carrboro.
May 17, 2013 – NCSTN Activists and allies joined protesters on the first of four days of rallies in observance of the 100th day of a hunger strike joined by more than 100 detainees at Guantánamo Bay held in London, Sydney, New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Anchorage, Eureka, Calif., Amherst, Mass., Toledo, Ohio, and Charlottesville, Virginia. The coalition events held at regional sites culminated with a May 20 action at the White House with protesters delivering more than 370,000 petition signatures to President Obama, urging him to take the necessary actions to close Guantanamo. In Raleigh, protesters held a vigil in front of the Century Post Office on Fayetteville Street in the heart of the city's downtown.
April 20, 2013 – Fourteen members or allies of the statewide, grassroots coalition, North Carolna Stop Torture Now, worked for two hours to clean up 2.5-miles of Swift Creek Road adjacent the southern perimeter of the Johnston County Airport and in front of Aero Contractors, a transportation hub of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.
April 11, 2013 – NCSTN Activists and allies joined those in more than 20 cities to protest the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and demand that the Obama administration immediately address the causes of the hunger strike and fulfill its promise to close Guantánamo.
The action was organized nationally by the Center for Constitutional Rights and other human rights allies in solidarity with prisoners who are in the sixth week of a hunger strike to protest conditions at the prison camp. Bob Geary, a columnist for the Indepnedent Weekly described the action in his online column.
February 16, 2013 – The ACLU of North Carolina presented the group's highest honor to Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law Deborah Weissman, who is lead author of The North Carolina Connection To Extraordinary Rendition and Torture, which was endorsed by human rights authorities with the United Nations and Council of Europe. The report specifically recommended "a Commission of Inquiry to examine the role of a North Carolina business in torture."
January 31 - February 1, 2013 – Retired Colonel Morris Davis, a former prosecutor at Guantánamo Bay spoke at four venues in the Triangle and Johnston County. His talks, which highlighted the injustice of holding prisoners indefinitely and without charge was covered by The Smithfield Herald, The News & Observer and The Fayetteville Observer and Davis was interviewed on The State of Things a public-interest program on WUNC-FM 91.5.
At every talk, Davis made the point that the military considers the Geneva Conventions its “bible,” and the U.S.’ abandonment of the rule of law has been opposed along the way by many in the Armed Forces and the JAG corps.
There is also a short video of Col. Davis reviewing the topics of his talk available.
January 5, 2013 – Nearly two dozen volunteers worked to clean up 2.5 miles of Swift Creek Road, adjacent to the Johnston County Airport and in front of Aero Contractors, a transportation hub of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.
November 16, 2012 – Christina Cowger, a co-founder and coordinator of North Carolina Stop Torture Now, was recognized for her leadership by the Wake County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union at the group's annual W.W. Finlator Award dinner.
September 19, 2012 – The News & Observer republished a September 14, Los Angeles Times editorial calling for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to promptly release results of their investigation into CIA interrogation and detention practices and for the Obama administration to create a public commission to " ... examine the torture policies of the Bush era with the same rigor and access to information that informed the report of the 9/11 Commission."
Also, September 19, 2012 – The News & Observer published a letter from NCSTN coordinator Christina Cowger, noting that a recent Human Rights Watch report:
" ... reveals that the U.S. detained exiled opponents of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in places such as Afghanistan and Thailand and subjected them to terrible abuses.
July 1, 2012 – The Smithfield Herald, the weekly newspaper distributed free throughout Smithfield and Selma, reported on a June 26 protest and vigil at the Johnston County Courthouse in Smithfield, NC.
June 27, 2012 – The Washington Post published a Letter to the Editor written by NCSTN coordinator, Christina Cowger, which fulfilled her pledge to Khadija Anna Lucia Pighizzini Britel to clarify or correct the circumstances of her husband's captivity in Morocco.
June 26, 2012 – Activists continued to demand accountability for the U.S. torture, disappearance and secret detention program at Smithfield, NC and Charlotte, NC. At Smithfield, the gathering of 17 activists was covered by The Smithfield Herald, a free weekly paper distributed throughout the communities surrounding the Johnston County Airport.
May 12, 2012 – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder offered no comment on a torture report researched and written by University of North Carolina law students during his remarks at the law school commencement. NCSTN activists distributed Mother’s Day Cards to graduates and their guests.
February 10, 2012 – The Washington Post featured the coalition's many years of work to expose North Carolina's links to the U.S. torture program in an article titled: "Hangar 3's Mystery."
January 19, 2012– NC Stop Torture Now and allies—including Steven Watt, Legal Director of the ACLU Human Rights campaign; Professor Deborah Weissman, UNC School of Law Human Rights and Immigration clinic; and David LaMotte, representing the NC Council of Churches—delivered a report authored by students in the clinic and accompanied by declarations from two survivors of kidnapping, secret detention and torture facilitated by Aero Contractors. The delivery of the report was covered by The Washington Post (in a February 10 feature) widely by local media including the News & Observer, ABC11-WTVD, the Smithfield Herald, and WPTF.January 15, 2012 – The News & Observer published a reminder of North Carolina's involvement in kidnapping, disappearance and torture. Deborah Weissman, Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and Robin Kirk, a writer who teaches human rights at Duke University, announced important findings revealed in a report by students in the University of North Carolina School of Law Immigration/Human Rights Policy clinic.
January 8, 2012 – The Durham Herald-Sun published a guest column from NCSTN leader Joan Walsh.
October 3, 2011 – About two dozen supporters of torture accountability, including at least 7 Johnston County residents, gathered to watch as the Johnston County Board of Commissioners listened and responded to a letter from the wife of Abou El-Kassim Britel, who was transported to more than 8 years of torture. The letter from Khadija Anna L. Pighizzini, read by Allyson Caison, says plainly: "Aero Contractors, which transported my husband to secret detention and torture on behalf of the CIA, has its headquarters in North Carolina." Anna also wrote: "The evil that we experienced has scarred us deeply. We are tired, and incredulous that human beings can suffer so much while others remain totally indifferent."
October 2, 2011 – Organized by Peggy Misch, who is the NC Stop Torture Now liaison to the Orange County Bill of Rights Defense Committee, volunteers asked visitors to Chapel Hill's annual arts festival, Festifall, to endorse a North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture. We collected 98 postcards from about 52 individuals who called on Governor Perdue and Attorney General Cooper to investigate Aero Contractors and endorsed the Commission.
September 15, 2011 – Allyson Caison visited the office of her Congresswoman, Rep. Renee Ellmers, Second District, North Carolina. Ellmers' district includes the headquarters of Aero Contractors at the Johnston County Airport. Allyson spoke with staffer Adam Wood and explained our concern desire for a thorough, independent and public investigation of North Carolina's support for U.S.-sponsored torture and–particularly–Aero Contractors' association with the kidnap, clandestine transport, secret detention and torture of numerous individuals.
July 4, 2011 – Peggy Misch and Joan Walsh did personal outreach and offered action opportunities during the Independence Day celebration in Carrboro. Among the actions offered at the event was the opportunity for folks to endorse the Call for a Citizens' Inquiry on Torture.
June 22-26, 2011 – Peggy Misch offered educational materials and resources to participants in the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly, a national gathering, hosted in Charlotte this year.
June 23-26, 2011 – NCSTN members shared information, did personal outreach, and offered action opportunities to participants in the inaugural Wild Goose Festival, described by the festival's public relations manager, Mike Morrell, as "a gathering to promote justice, spirituality and art ... " Among the actions offered at the event was the opportunity for folks to endorse the Call for a Citizens' Inquiry on Torture.
June 6, 2011 – At the Johnston County Board of Commissioners meeting this date, Commissioner Mims assigned Commissioner Wade Stewart to view the video Allyson and Chuck had provided each commissioner one month earlier (see below) and report back.
May 22, 2011 – The Durham Herald-Sun published a letter from NC Stop Torture Now member, Joan Walsh asking why Senator Richard Burr is such a fan of torture.
May 4, 2011 – Chuck Fager and Allyson Caison again visited the Johnston County Board of Commissioners at their regularly scheduled meeting and provided each Commissioner, the County clerk, County Attorney, and a member of the Johnston County Airport Authority Board of Directors with a copy of the 20-minute National Religious Campaign Against Torture video Ending U.S.-Sponsored Torture Forever, which may be viewed online here.
April 4, 2011 – Chuck Fager and Allyson Caison visited with the Johnston County Board of Commissioners to update them on efforts for accountability. Commissioner Cookie Pope recommended Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (HIllenbrand, Random House, 2010) to Chuck.
March 28, 2011 – Students from the UNC Law School Immigration and Human Rights Clinic and a Johnston County activist reported on their meeting with Johnston County Manager Rick Hester and County Attorney David Mills. The county officials identified Sheriff Bizzell as the appropriate person to investigate Aero Contractors.
March 25-26, 2011 – Duke Divinity School, Duke Human Rights Center, North Carolina Council of Churches, and National Religious Campaign Against Torture convene a two-day conference: "Towards a Moral Consensus Against Torture."
March 10, 2011 – Town Hall Precinct of the Orange County Democratic Party, NC adopted two resolutions on "US Loss of Moral Bearings Regarding Due Process for Detainees," and "Support of Due Process for Anti-War and International Solidarity Activists."
February 12, 2011 – NCSTN members joined allies at the fifth annual HK on J march and rally.
February 1, 2011 – Geoffrey Mock, Chair of Amnesty International's Middle East Country Specialists reminded readers of the News & Observer that Egypt's new vice president, Omar Suleiman, personally guided the cruel and inhuman treatment of at least two prisoners transported to captivity by Aero Contractors under direction of the CIA in a program of enforced disappearance the human rights group calls systematic.January 23, 2011 – Nearly a dozen friends gathered for a vigil at the Johnston County Courthouse. Several motorists honked approval of a large banner reading: "Torture Accountability Starts at the Top."
December 15, 2010 – NC Stop Torture Now joined an effort organized by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law to call on Attorney General Holder and the US Department of Justice to launch "a thorough investigation—conducted by all relevant Inspectors General with full access to all relevant witnesses, documents, tapes, photographs, and other material, and culminating in a public report—would serve the interests of justice, and … 'provide greater accountability and reliability in the invocation of the state secrets privilege.'"
The letter reminds the Justice Department of its own policy providing that, "in a case where the state secrets privilege is properly invoked but the complaint raises credible allegations of government wrongdoing, 'the Department [of Justice] will refer those allegations to the Inspector General of the appropriate department or agency.'"
NCSTN joined the ACLU of North Carolina, Amnesty International USA, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights First, No More Guantánamos, Physicians for Human Rights and other groups and individuals in signing the letter.
November 17, 2010 – Accompanying a report on the British government' s agreement to provide unspecified settlement payments to several former Guantánamo Bay detainees, for that nation's alleged complicity in their torture, The News & Observer included a sidebar noting that at least 5 of the detainees scheduled to receive compensation had been flown to torture by Aero Contractors, Ltd. a company headquartered in North Carolina and -- for some time operating out of a state-subsidized facility in Kinston, NC.
November 15, 2010 – Hundreds of North Carolinians signed their names on a letter to torture survivors and their families, offering acknowledgement and apology in the absence of government action. In just three weeks during October 2010, members of North Carolina Stop Torture Now combined with allies at the Peace Booth to collect signatures from about 800 residents of over 80 communities in North Carolina. The development was announced as a new report by Amnesty International revealed progress in eight European countries toward accountability for crimes in connection with the U.S.-led extraordinary rendition program.
“As citizens of North Carolina,” the letter to survivors states, “we express our deep regret for the suffering you have endured or are continuing to suffer either at the hands of our government or proxy states.” North Carolinians feel a special responsibility to reach out to torture survivors, the letter continues, because North Carolina’s taxpayer-funded airports have hosted the torture taxis, and the state is home to many who have served in the Armed Forces or in covert operations. These North Carolinians may themselves have suffered from witnessing or participating in human rights abuses.
October 3, 2010 – NC Stop Torture Now joins the Orange County Bill of Rights Defense Committee for outreach to visitors to Festifall, Chapel Hill's annual autumnal arts festival. NCSTN asked visitors to write brief apolitical letters of support to the 184 men yet detained at Guantánamo Bay.
September 29-30, 2010 – NCSTN Coordinator, Christina Cowger, represented NCSTN at a meeting among national experts and organizational leaders to consider "Tactical Mapping for Accountability."
September 24, 2010 – Raleigh's News & Observer publishes an opinion piece co-written by Steven Edelstein and Christina Cowger. Read the piece here.
September 2, 2010 – Constituents of Rep. David Price and their allies met the Congressman to thank him for his support and seek guidance on continuing efforts to achieve accountability. Among the items shared with Rep. Price was a summary of survivors' attempts to obtain restorative justice via the U.S. judiciary.
July 24, 2010 – Members and allies gather for a vigil on the airport perimeter.
May 5, 2010 – The Clayton News-Star published an opinion piece, "Torture program scarred many people," Christina Cowger's articulation of our view that accountability for U.S.-sponsored torture must begin at the top and make room for healing the harm to victims, survivors and perpetrators.
May 1, 2010 – A small group met and gathered nearly 30 signatures on this petition at the Clayton Wal-Mart. As has become familiar, nearly 2 in 3 of those approached agreed to sign the petition.
April 8-10, 2010 – NCSTN collaborated with Duke Human Rights Center, the Immigration & Human Rights Policy Clinic at The University of North Carolina School of Law, and the International Human Rights Law Society at Duke University Law School to organize a three-day conference Weaving a Net of Accountability: Taking on extraordinary rendition at the state and local level. The conference received generous support from a diversity of organizational and individual co-sponsors and was hosted by Duke University.
March 21, 2010 – Rev. Mark Davidson, Pastor at the Church of Reconciliation; Rev. Robert Seymour, Pastor Emeritus at Binkley Baptist Church; and Steve Edelstein, Esq., a member of NC Stop Torture Now; offered comments at a dedication of Chapel Hill Church of Reconciliation's display of a Rabbis for Human Rights and National Religious Campaign Against Torture banner reading: "Honor the Image of God …Stop Torture Now."
March 15. 2010 – The News & Observer prints an Op-Ed by NCSTN coordinator and Weaving a Net conference organizer questioning revocation of invited speaker's visa.
February 2, 2010 – NCSTN releases a Scorecard on Torture: The Obama Administration's First Year, which was reprinted by The Independent, mentioned briefly in the Raleigh News & Observer and covered on Greensboro Fox Channel 8 Web site.
December 7, 2009 – Chuck Fager and Jule Shanklin represented NCSTN at the monthly meeting of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners.
November 14, 2009 – NCSTN collaborated with No More Guantánamos to host a fundraiser for the E P M civil rights fund, which helps underwrite the costs associated with three NC attorneys' legal advocacy on behalf of Sharifullah and other Guantánamo detainees.
November 2, 2009 – Chuck Fager was the lone NCSTN representative at the Johnston County Board of Commissioners. In spite of a confrontation with a hostile constituent, Chuck noted that the Commissioners are increasingly engaged with us and our issues.
September 8, 2009 – Two commissioners, Tony Braswell and W. Ray Woodall, chose to leave the meeting rather than hear a constituent address the Board and present petitions gathered in events described below.
August 8, 2009 – Petition drive continues. Six members gather another 60 signatures from Johnston County residents on this petition.
August 3, 2009 – Johnston County resident Timothy Hodges, president of the county NAACP, leads testimony to the Johnston County Board of Commissioners during the public comment period of the board's monthly meeting.
July 12, 2009 – More than a dozen volunteers from the North Carolina counties of Johnston, Durham, Orange, and Wake carried out a “stop torture” visibility vigil.
July 2, 2009 – Christina Cowger, Spencer Bradford (NC Council of Churches), Steven Edelstein and Johnston County residents Allyson Caison and Julia Elsee met with Al Delia, Policy Director, and Megan Brown, Policy Advisor, Office of Governor Beverly Perdue to encourage the Governor to proactively engage in efforts to end North Carolina's support for the ongoing extraordinary rendition program.
June 13, 2009 – A small but committed contingent of NCSTN members gathered signatures on this petition in the parking lot of the Clayton Wal-Mart on US Business Hwy 70. During two hours on the asphalt, 5 of us gathered approximately 50 signatures. Remarkably, those we approached were most often supportive of our efforts. A consensus among those who worked the crowd was that nearly two-thirds of those approached signed.
June 1, 2009 – Chuck Fager and Allyson Caison revisited the Johnston County Board of Commissioners. This was Chuck's fourth visit to the Board to advocate for an investigation of Aero Contractors and Chairman Wade Stewart initially acted to silence Commissioner Braswell's objection to another appeal, but responded to Chuck's inquiry by noting his and the Commission's stalwart support for Aero Contractors and even endorsing an expansion of the extraordinary rendition program to capture adversaries in North Korea and Iran.
Allyson offered the Commissioners testimony summarizing an article she she shared with the Commissioners reporting on how one Al Qaida captive had resisted water boarding and other torture, but broke down and spilled his guts after being offered a cookie. Allyson then noted that this showed how even seemingly small gestures of humanity could help promote big changes, and concluded her testimony by sharing homemade chocolate chip cookies to each of the board members.
May 10, 2009 – At the invitation of UNC Law graduates, NCSTN activists and allies gathered in protest of the appearance of torture advocate and former U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey as the featured speaker for the commencement exercise. Mother's Day cards were distributed to graduates' families.
April 28, 2009 – NCSTN releases a statement summarizing our view on transparency, accountability and restitution.
April 6, 2009 – NCSTN activists, led by Chuck Fager of Quaker House, returned to the Johnston County Board of Commissioners to learn whether any had discussed concerns raised February 2 with Congressman Bob Etheridge. The group left the Commissioners with copies of a 70-page, topically indexed packet NCSTN provided to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee regarding North Carolina's links to and support of the extraordinary rendition program.
March 20, 2009 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) heard testimony, March 20, from Colleen Costello, Human Rights USA, Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights, and other allies in the struggle to end the U.S. torture policy and seek meaningful accountability for the most recent authors and perpetrators of these policies during a battle described by the Bush Administration as a War on Terror. North Carolina Stop Torture Now filed a letter in support of the petition for this hearing by the World Organization for Human Rights USA and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
March 10, 2009 – North Carolina state Representatives Paul Luebke (30th District), Earl Jones (60th District), and Pricey Harrison (57th District) wrote selected members of the North Carolina Congressional delegation to seek follow-up on earlier calls for an FBI investigation of Aero Contractors.
March 2, 2009 – About two dozen anti-torture activists again visited the Johnston County Board of Commissioners to learn if they would investigate or take action against their renegade tenant. Floyd McGurk, a retired Army officer with 2 sons and other family members on activity duty in Iraq testified, as did four Johnston County residents including the wife of an activity duty Marine. Ultimately, the Board took no action except to promise to raise the issue with Congressman Etheridge as private citizens. Chairman Wade Stewart even offered an endorsement of torture: ""If torture were not ... at times ... effective ... it would have ceased 2,000 years ago, because it didn't work." The meeting was reported in the March 11 edition of The Smitfield Herald (Smithfield, NC).
February 2, 2009 – Nearly 20 anti-torture activists from Johnston, Carteret, Orange, Durham, Wake, and Cumberland counties attended the meeting of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners to ask the Commissioners to take action against torture flights emanating from their county airport and operated by the CIA-affiliated shell company, Aero Contractors Ltd. But, the Commission took no action on a request to direct the Johnston County Airport Authority to adopt a pledge to prohibit future rendition flights and seek information about past flights originating from JNX.
January 17, 2009 – A score of activists vigil across the street from the Governor's Mansion, putting Governor Perdue on notice that we expect her campaign pledges of accountability to extend to ending the state's supporting role of the extraordinary rendition program.
December 9, 2008 – Nearly a score of activists and allies demonstrated in support of Maher Arar's quest for justice in the U.S. Courts in downtown Raleigh. Later that evening, the event's co-sponsor, the Human Rights Coalition of North Carolina honored NC STN co-founder Peggy Misch for her commitment and work on behalf of human rights.
November 17, 2008 –The Johnston County Airport authority referred a proposed policy statement committing the Board and airport operating staff to monitor and investigate Aero Contractors. Reporter Bob Geary described the event on his blog for The Independent Weekly.
November 13, 2008 –Our group was honored to be recognized by the Wake County chapter of the ACLU as the 2008 winner of the group's Civil Liberties Award, for "... efforts to expose and stop torture and extraordinary rendition." The award was presented at the annual W.W. Finlator Dinner.
November 8, 2008 – Nearly a dozen activists gathered for a monthly vigil at the Johnston County Airport, encouraged by approving honks and waves from passing motorists. Informational literature was shared with the curious and two more Johnston County residents asked to join future efforts.
October 20, 2008 – Ten activists, including 6 service-learning students and three Johnston County residents delivered a policy statement crafted by the Duke Chapter of Amnesty International calling on the Johnston County Airport Authority to investigate tenant Aero Contractor's alleged historic and ongoing support of the extraordinary rendition program.
September 15, 2008 – NCSTN joined as a friend of the court in a lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights against private contractors CACI International Incorporated and Titan Corporation (now L-3 Communications Titan Group) that charges the companies with torture and other heinous and illegal acts while they were providing interrogation and interpretation services, respectively at detention facilities in Iraq, including at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
September 14, 2008 – New Garden Friends Meeting, Greensboro, NC hosts "North Carolina Says NO to Torture," an event featuring a performance piece by Hector Aristizabal.
September 13, 2008 – Chuck Fager of Quaker House; represented NCSTN at the UNC Parr Center for Ethics' Symposium: "Torture & Interrogation: Have We Gone Too Far?" by offering his view on the Torture-Industrial Complex.
September 13, 2008 – Nearly twenty-two NCSTN members and allies, including at least three Johnston County residents, and an ally from Robeson County gathered during a 4-hour vigil concurrent festivities at the Johnston County Airport's annual Open House. At the request of airport officials we stopped giving out helium balloons out of concern for the safety of pilots and passengers, but distributed informational literature and engaged many Open House visitors in one-on-one conversation.
September 10-12, 2008 – Chuck Fager, of Quaker House; and Andy Silver represented NCSTN at the Evangelicals for Human Rights summit on "Religious Faith, Torture and our National Soul."
August 9, 2008 – Nine NCSTN members and allies (including three members of Amnesty International - Group 213, Raleigh) held another monthly vigil at the Johnston County Airport. A member of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee of Durham distributed flyers to passing
July 28, 2008 – Following an invitation secured by an ally with the Triangle Chapter of Code Pink, four members and allies of NCSTN – including representatives of the ACLU and the Human Rights Coalition of North Carolina – met with Congressman Brad Miller (NC-13) to share our concerns and ask for his support.
July 18, 2008 – Seven constituents of Congressman Price meet to thank him for his support and seek guidance on the way forward toward Congressional investigations of the U.S. torture program and North Carolina links to extraordinary rendition.
July 17, 2008 – Congressman Price (D - 4th District, NC) calls for a Congressional Investigation of Aero.
July 12, 2008 – Allies and NCSTN activists encouraged curious passers by pull to the roadside to learn more about Aero Contractors during our monthly vigil at the perimeter of the Johnston County Airport.
June 17, 2008 – 37 constituents turned out in support of HB2417, Crimes of Torture and Enforced Disappearance, for its hearing in the House Judiciary I committee, but the bill was tabled for additional discussion and a vote on Thursday, June 19.
June 8, 2008 – Fifty-six members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Congressman David Price (Dem. - NC-4), urged U.S. Attorney General Mukasey to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's authorization of torture.
May 21, 2008 – HB 2417 "Crimes of Torture and Enforced Disappearance " introduced in North Carolina General Assembly.
May 20, 2008 – Allyson and Walt Caison honored by NC Peace Action as Peacemakers of the Year, 2008.
May 3, 2008 – Duke Center for Human Rights and NCSTN co-host a conference titled: "Waterboarding, Ghost Planes and Guantánamo: Inside America's Secret War," featuring talks from Moazzam Begg, Tina Monshipour Foster and Brad Garrett, and an afternoon of strategy sessions and workshops.
May 1, 2008 – FBI's Assistant Director for Congressional Affairs, Robert Powers, tells Congressman Watt his agency has been waiting since October 2006 for a go-ahead to launch an investigation into Aero Contractors.
April 23, 2008 – During House Judiciary committee testimony, Congressman Mel Watt asks FBI Director Robert Mueller for an update on a criminal investigation of Aero Contractors referred to the agency by NC Attorney General Roy Cooper.
March 8, 2008 – Alerted by NCSTN, Irish allies meet a rendition-linked aircraft at Shannon and demand it be searched for captives.
March 7, 2008 – North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission report specifically recognized what one commissioner called "the elephant in the room," -- US government sponsorship of torture and enforced disappearance supported by CIA-front companies operating in North Carolina. The Commission convened a Torture Offense Subcommittee that met on January 18 and noted that "the people of North Carolina do not condone torture and that it is contrary to who they are as Americans."
January 18, 2008 – The Torture Offenses Subcommittee of the NC Sentencing & Policy Advisory Commission meets to consider HB 1682 and classify the offenses created by the bill. The Subcommittee recognizes Aero Contractors as the “prototype offender” for whom the bill is designed. The Subcommittee recommends adding a preamble that North Carolinians do not condone torture, and recommends numerous other wording changes designed to strengthen the bill.
January 11, 2008 – NCSTN joins key allies in the human rights and civil liberties community to demand the closure of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.
December 23, 2007 - The Fayetteville Observer covered NCSTN's ongoing effort to directly monitor and photograph aircraft linked to torture flights at stopovers in North Carolina. The story focused on the August 29 arrival of N475LC at KFAY, which is documented at our planespotting page.
November 28, 2007 – NCSTN planespotter captures image of N478GS at Fayetteville Regional / Grannis Field.
November 21, 2007 – NCSTN honored by the Independent Weekly with one of five 2007 Citizen Awards.
October 27, 2007 – NCSTN with the help of numerous co-sponsors organizes a "PEACE RALLY & WALK OF REMEMBRANCE FOR VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS OF WAR AND TORTURE," in Smithfield, NC home to Aero Contractors' headquarters.
October 18, 2007 – Maher Arar testifies by video link to a joint meeting of House subcommittees of the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary. Lawmakers apologize to Arar for his mistreatment. None of the three NC Congressional Representatives sitting on the committee calls to expand the investigation of rendition to include Aero Contractors.
October 12, 2007 – Three NCSTN activists learned that the Johnston County District Attorney's office plans to dismiss charges against them connected to their attempts to deliver a Citizens' Arrest demanding Aero Contractors' senior management cooperate with investigations of criminal conduct by three of the company's pilots.
September 29, 2007 – The German government ends pursuit of extradition requests for 13 CIA agents charged with kidnapping a German citizen and taking him to Afghanistan for interrogation and abuse. Relations with the US government, Berlin says, are more important.
September 26, 2007 – "Unheard voices in the War on Terror," a panel discussion hosted by Duke Human Rights Center features Canadian rendition survivor, Maher Arar via video link; Arar's legal counsel, ACLU lawyer Steve Watt; British journalist and author of Ghost Plane, Stephen Grey; NCSTN Coordinator, Christina Cowger; and readings from "Poems from Guantanamo."
September 7, 2007 – Germany Makes Official Request to US in 'CIA Rendition' Case. <http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2773299,00.html>
August 24, 2007 – Two planespotters photographed another rendition-linked aircraft at Fayetteville Regional/Grannis Airfield. This aircraft is registered to L 3 IS LLC, a Great Falls, Montana company thought to be yet another brass plate company doing front work for the CIA.
August 9, 2007 – Anonymous planespotter photographs another mysterious airplane at Johnston County Airport.
August 8, 2007 – NCSTN and ACAT-Germany send joint letters to Chancellor Merkel, Secretary of State Rice, and Attorney General Gonzales.
July 24, 2007 – Two NCSTN Activists spot and photograph an aircraft linked to rendition flights: N168D.
June 26, 2007 – Four NCSTN Activists join in coordinated lobbying effort to restore habeas corpus. Three delegates meet with Congressman Brad Miller and ask specifically whether he will prompt to FBI to investigate Aero Contractors.
June 9, 2007 – Nearly two-dozen citizen activists receive training on the techniques of monitoring ground traffic and radio communications at Johnston County Airport.
May 23, 2007– The Kinston Free Press reports that Aero Contractors is no longer flying from the Kinston JetPort at the stat-subsidized Global TransPark facility.
May 10, 2007 – Three of eight activists who walked through an open gate onto Johnston County airport property while trying to deliver citizens’ arrests are convicted of criminal trespass. Each served notice of intent to appeal the decision to a jury trial in Superior Court.
May 10, 2007 – NCSTN representatives and allies including Christina Cowger and Steven Edelstein provided Julia White, Senior Policy Advisor to Attorney General Roy Cooper, and Kristi Hyman, his Chief of Staff with documentation of Aero’s involvement in rendition to torture.
November 19, 2005 – STN also gathered at the recently completed Aero hangar at the Kinston Global TransPark to call attention to Aero’s Boeing 737, used for many CIA rendition flights. At the same time, letters were delivered to several members of the Global TransPark Authority (GTPA) board.
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