Washington Week on Human Rights: September 29, 2014

Top News

ISIS This week, the United States will continue its work to expand the coalition of nations joining in the effort to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all joined in the first wave of air attacks earlier this month. On Friday, an overwhelming majority of the British Parliament voted to join the U.S.-led effort. Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands have announced their intention to participate as well. Meanwhile, back in Washington, the airstrikes have members of both parties calling for a debate over a new authorization for the use of military force.

Interrogators, Intel Experts to Washington A dozen of the nation’s most respected interrogation and intelligence professionals will be in Washington, D.C. this week ahead of the Senate intelligence committee’s release of its report on the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program. While in Washington, the group of interrogators and intelligence experts – which includes professionals from the armed services, CIA, FBI, NCIS, and federal law enforcement, including some who have interrogated core al Qaeda members – will meet with Senate intelligence committee staff about the report’s progress, brief Members of Congress and staff about the inefficacy of torture, and urge Congress to consider legislation to codify the president’s executive order against torture.

Afghanistan On Tuesday, newly inaugurated Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai will sign a deal allowing American soldiers to remain in Afghanistan after the end of combat operations in 2014. The agreement will allow approximately 10,000 U.S. troops to remain to provide general security and help Afghan forces.

Hong Kong Protests Thousands of pro-democracy protestors have gathered in the heart of Hong Kong to push back against what they say is the Chinese Communist Party’s growing influence. When Hong Kong was given back to China by Britain in 1997, its people were promised “a high degree of autonomy,” a pledge they believe is now threated by Beijing-backed political candidates. Yesterday, more than 40 people were injured as police used tear gas, batons, and pepper spray in clashes with protestors.

Quote of the Week

“If young people live in places where the only option is between the dictates of a state, or the lure of an extremist underground, then no counterterrorism strategy can succeed. But where a genuine civil society is allowed to flourish — where people can express their views, and organize peacefully for a better life — then you dramatically expand the alternatives to terror.”

– President Obama before the United Nations General Assembly (September 24)

We’re Reading

Saturday’s Washington Post editorial argued that building alliances with repressive governments like Egypt and Bahrain in the fight against ISIS will likely have a negative impact on the U.S. long term interests of promoting democratic reforms and protecting human rights.

The Wall Street Journal’s Ana Campoy investigated the uphill battle that many recently arrived immigrants are facing to be granted asylum in the United States. Read more here.

Adam Howard for MSNBC reported on the United Nations Human Rights Council’s adoption of an important resolution on the rights of LGBT people just one day after the Russian Constitutional Court upheld the country’s infamous anti-gay law. Read more here.

In an article for Defense One, Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley calls on the Obama Administration to undertake an interagency review of the bilateral relationship with Bahrain and develop a plan to increase pressure on the regime to respect human rights and the rule of law. Read more here.

Al Jazeera America highlighted the rising tide of antisemitism and xenophobia in Greece fueled by violent extremist party Golden Dawn. Read more here.

We’re Watching

In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said he would be willing to call the House back into session to consider a new authorization for military force targeting ISIS.

Around Town

September 29, 2014

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will hold a conference on “Federated Defense in the Middle East.” 9AM, CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) will host a discussion on “MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Region in Crisis: Islam, Democracy and Extremism.” The event will feature Rached Ghannouchi, founder and president of the Ennahdha Party of Tunisia; William Taylor, acting executive vice president of USIP; and Robin Wright, distinguished scholar at USIP. 10AM, USIP, 2301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

The Brookings Institution will hold a discussion on “The Evolving Risks of Fragile States and International Terrorism.” The event will feature Jean-Marie Guehenno, president of the International Crisis Group; Sarah Cliffe, special adviser at the World Bank Group and former assistant secretary-general of the United Nations; and Bruce Jones, senior fellow and deputy director of foreign policy at Brookings. 2PM, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

September 30, 2014

Human Rights First will host a briefing on “The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s Study of the Post-9/11 CIA Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program in Context” featuring security, intelligence and interrogator professionals. The briefing panel will include Colonel Steve Kleinman, USAF, former interrogator and career intelligence officer; Brig. Gen. David Irvine (Ret.), retired U.S. Army intelligence officer and Army Intelligence School faculty; Mark Fallon, retired Naval Criminal Investigative Service and counterintelligence officer; and
Scott Cooper, Director of National Security Outreach, Human Rights First, as moderator. 3PM, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 562, Washington, D.C.

The George Washington University (GWU) Elliott School of International Affairs will host a discussion on the Central Intelligence Agency. The discussion will feature Joseph Kiehl, former CIA operations officer. 7PM, GWU Elliott School, Funger Hall, 2201 G Street NW, Room 103, Washington, D.C.

October 1, 2014

The Women’s Foreign Policy Group will hold a briefing on “Transitions, Revolutions, Sectarian Strife and ISIL: An Inside Look into a Volatile Region.” The briefing will feature Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson. 12PM, The Cosmos Club, 2121 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

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Published on September 29, 2014

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