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Agenda for a New Congress: Human Rights

The air in America is full of talk about “a new political landscape” and “new priorities for our nation.”

Let’s be clear right from the start. There is no new direction for America that has moral meaning if it doesn’t begin with a determined effort to reverse America’s deteriorating course on human rights. In the most basic of ways, the current policies and practices of our government betray The America We Believe In.


Before leaving Washington, the last Congress passed the “Military Commissions Act of 2006”, which disregards America’s deep human rights tradition and gives the administration the power to detain people indefinitely without charge or trial and even allows the use of evidence obtained by cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

The next Congress must begin by reversing the dangerous provisions of that Act and actively reaffirming America’s commitment to human rights.

Why sign the pledge now? Because we want to collect 500,000 signatures on the America I Believe In pledge to show the new Congress that it’s time to change the course on human rights. When the new Congress convenes in January to receive the President’s State of the Union address, we will present the new leaders of Congress with our human rights agenda. Your signature will help leverage the human rights agenda to reclaim The America We Believe In.

Because the violations of human rights by our government have been so profound, the steps needed to reclaim The American We Believe In must be equally far-reaching.

Make no mistake about it, America still leads the world on human rights. But, right now, it’s leading the world in precisely the wrong direction. Dictators are now using our behavior as cover for their own long-standing abuses. Torturers can now point to our President’s endorsement of “alternative interrogation techniques.” And the global consensus on human rights is being frayed by our government’s intentional efforts to tear at its very fabric.

That has to end or we will lose the soul of our nation – and victims of human rights abuses the world over will pay the price.


There’s much that needs to be done. But, there is one, simple, powerful and immediate step that we will ask Congress to take:

We will urge the new Congress to adopt our human rights agenda to reclaim
the America We Believe In by acting urgently to:

  • stop torture and ill-treatment
  • end extraordinary renditions
  • expose secret prisons
  • restore the centuries-old writ of habeas corpus for anyone in U.S. detention.

Once the new Congress convenes in January we will mobilize you and thousands of others to help make this a reality. Act to restore The America We Believe In and help us gather the 500,000 signatures. Start by signing the petition yourself and by asking your friends, neighbors and community leaders to sign as well.

I thank you for speaking out in defense of human rights and in standing up for The America We Believe In.


Larry Cox
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

One Response

  1. “America’s deep human rights tradition”…

    Which of the following would apply to that?
    1. Counting African Americans as 3/5 of a person in our Constitution
    2. Slavery
    3. No women’s sufferage until the early 1900’s
    4. Forcing Children to work in factories around the same time
    5. Imprisoning Japaneese Americans during the Second World War
    6. Sending economically depressed Mexicans back to their home country
    7. Exporting Labor to children working in sweat shops
    8. Ignoring World Hunger while we remain fat and happy
    10. Ingnoring Genocide in Africa

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