ABOUT NCCIT: CITIZEN-LED TRANSPARENCY
The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture (NCCIT) is a 501(c)3 organization set up to investigate and encourage public debate about the role that North Carolina played in facilitating the U.S. torture program carried out between 2001 – 2009. This non-governmental inquiry responds to the lack of recognition by North Carolina’s publicly elected officials and the U.S. government of citizens’ need to know how their tax dollars and state assets were used to support unlawful detention, torture, and rendition. The NCCIT will establish a highly credible, blue-ribbon panel of policy experts, academics, and community leaders to do the job that their government refuses to do: investigate North Carolina’s involvement in the U.S. torture program and its resulting obligations under international treaties and domestic law. The NCCIT will serve as a model for other accountability efforts, and will help create momentum for full official transparency and accountability for the U.S.’ use of torture and rendition.
BACKGROUND: THE PROBLEM
Recently declassified documents and the work of investigative journalists have confirmed that, soon after 9/11, the U.S. embarked on a secret global program in which hundreds of men were detained, transferred, and held indefinitely for interrogations using torture.
North Carolina’s state government, taxpayer-funded public airports, and aviation infrastructure played a unique role in this Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program. The New York Times and other sources have confirmed that the CIA established an aviation front company in North Carolina called Aero Contractors in 1979 which was used after 9/11 to transport dozens of detainees to secret detention and torture sites.
Twenty cases of North Carolina-based jets, pilots, and crews taking part in the CIA’s torture program appear in the executive summary of the 7,000-page report on CIA torture released by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee in December 2014.
Since Aero Contractors’ and North Carolina’s role became apparent in 2005, a grassroots network of people of faith and people of conscience has been organizing in North Carolina to seek transparency and accountability. The goal has been to ensure that the state comes clean about its role in the RDI program and takes steps to prevent any future role in facilitating torture.
Read more about the background of North Carolina's involvement in the U.S. torture program...
OUR RESPONSE: THE COMMISSION
The NCCIT has established a distinguished, diverse blue-ribbon panel of policy experts, academics, and community leaders to do the job their government refuses to do: investigate North Carolina’s involvement in the U.S. torture program and its resulting obligations under international treaties and domestic law. The NCCIT will serve as a model for other accountability efforts, and will help create momentum for full official transparency and accountability for the U.S.’ use of torture and rendition.
The centerpiece of the Commission’s inquiry will be a two-day public hearing, Thursday, November 30 and Friday, December 1. The Commission will receive and record testimony from legal and human rights experts, former government officials, torture survivors, and others on the U.S. torture program and the facilitating role that North Carolina played in hosting infrastructure for it. Commissioners will issue a report following this event that will include recommendations to elected officials on measures to address responsibility and prevent further torture, and ways North Carolina can become a leader in accountability for torture.
The NCCIT is honored to have received endorsements from dozens of organizations and individuals. Below find a sampling of some support statements:
Support for torture is completely counter to the teachings of every religious and spiritual tradition. I am grateful that a group of citizens is setting up this inquiry into North Carolina's involvement in organized torture. I look forward to hearing the Commission's ideas on how we, as a state and as a nation, can try to make amends and seek reconciliation with those whom we have harmed.
- Rev. Jennifer E. Copeland, Ph.D.
Executive Director, North Carolina Council of Churches
I commend the efforts of the newly formed North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture to reveal North Carolina’s involvement in the torture of detainees. I look forward to receiving the full analysis and report, and applaud the commission’s work to shed light on an issue that should be of concern to all citizens of our state and nation.
- Representative Graig Meyer, NC House District 50 serving Orange and Durham Counties
This new commission is an important effort by North Carolina citizens to shine a light on the still largely secret and troubling role our state has played in transporting a large number of Muslim detainees to torture sites. An outstanding group of Commissioners has been assembled, and I'm looking forward to their work with great interest.
- Steve Schewel, Durham City Council
The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture (NCCIT) is a courageous civil society initiative to cast light on a shameful episode of the United States' recent past. Its importance, though, is not limited to the United States, as the torture program weakened human rights protections around the globe, and fueled cynicism and despair.
Today, as the President of the United States speaks of reintroducing torture, the NCCIT can become a powerful forum to contemplate the horror of torture, build human empathy with victims, and prevent the recurrence of such abuses.
I strongly support the NCCIT, and I'm sure that many people of goodwill around the world shall back its work.
-Eduardo Gonzalez, Transitional Justice Expert, International Center for Transitional Justice
A strong democracy deals with its mistakes by properly examining what it did and taking the necessary steps to make it right. By investigating our nation’s role in torture, the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture is bringing greater transparency to a dark period in U.S. history that must never be repeated. This important work will help to re-establish a durable consensus against torture.
- Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch is pleased to support the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture, a citizen-led initiative that will examine the role North Carolina private and public entities played in the US government secret detention and torture program after the September 11 attacks. This program involved scores of men picked up around the world and detained by the US or transferred to other countries for torture. The US has still not fully acknowledged the brutality and scope of this program, and none of those held and mistreated have obtained compensation or justice. The commission will make recommendations aimed to ensure such inhumane, unlawful acts never recur.
- Human Rights Watch
Full list of endorsements available soon.