Action Alert: CAIR Urges Senate to Vote ‘No’ on Torture-Supporting Judicial Nominee Howard Nielson

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/5/18) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote “NO” on the nomination of Howard C. Nielson to the position of United States District Court Judge for the District of Utah because of his past support for torture.

CAIR is also calling on American voters to urge the Senate Judiciary Committee, and their state’s Senate delegation, to oppose Nielson’s nomination.

Prior to his nomination, Nielson, serving as a Bush Administration Justice Department deputy assistant attorney general, authored an August 2005 memo used to justify torture, arguing that “persons captured and detained in Afghanistan do not qualify for ”˜protected person’ status under the Geneva Convention.”

Nielson’s memo was written in part to support the conclusions of the Bush Administration’s “Torture Memos” – a series of legal memos erroneously providing legal defenses for the Bush Administration’s use of rendition, indefinite detention, torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. custody; including the use of waterboarding.

The Senate Judiciary Committee may hear and vote on Nielson’s nomination as early as Wednesday, January 10.

“The Senate has a moral obligation to reject judicial nominees who provided legal justifications for the United States’ past use of torture — especially when they are being nominated by a president who has pledged to bring back waterboarding and much worse,” said CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert S. McCaw.

Act Now – Click Here to Tell the Judiciary Committee, Your Senator to Vote “No” On Judges That Support the Use of Torture

In 2007, Nielson wrote a Washington Post editorial defending the Bush Administration’s Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), and former Acting Assistant Attorney General Stephen Bradbury, his previous supervisor, in response to national media revealing the existence of the torture memos and torture of detainees.

Bradbury was one of the primary authors of the OLC’s torture memos, and in Nielson’s editorial, he hinted at his own involvement assisting Bradbury in drafting some of these memos.

In 2006, the Bush administration banned waterboarding, and in 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order banning waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics.

However, President Donald Trump supported the use of torture on the campaign trail stating if elected president, “I would bring back waterboarding” ”¦ “And I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

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CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,