ACLU of North Carolina to host “Use of Torture and Race” panel discussion featuring Asheville residents

Press release from the ACLU of North Carolina: 

Panel Discussion:  “The Use of Torture and Race: North Carolina’s Role.”  This virtual program will help make the connection between the U.S. government’s torture of Muslims in places like Guantánamo Bay and CIA “black sites,” and the abusive conditions in North Carolina’s prison system, which disproportionately impact Black Americans.  

Date:  March 23, 7:00 to 8:30 pm

Sponsors:  ACLU of NCACLU Western NC ChapterNC Stop Torture Now

Moderator:  Kristie Puckett Williams,  American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolinamanager of Statewide Campaign for Smart Justice 


  • Nancy Hollander — criminal defense and human rights lawyer; attorney for Mohamedou Ould Slahi, and a current Guantanamo prisoner; lead counsel for Chelsea Manning in her military appeal and for her clemency; partner with Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward, P.A. in Albuquerque, New Mexico, since 1983
  • James Coleman, Duke Law School, John S. Bradway Professor of the Practice of Law, Director of the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility, and Co-Director of the Wrongful Convictions Clinic; former commissioner of the NC Commission of Inquiry on Torture (NCCIT
  • Robert Thomas, Jr. — Racial Justice Coalition of Asheville, Community Liaison; justice-involved expert, racial justice practitioner, activist, community engagement champion, consultant and innovative organizer
  • Frank Goldsmith — mediator, arbitrator and former civil rights lawyer in the Asheville, NC area; served as co-chair of the NC Commission of Inquiry on Torture; represented several Guantánamo detainees and wrongfully convicted NC prisoners. Former president and chair of the Legal Committee of ACLU of NC. 
  • Christina Cowger — coordinator of North Carolina Stop Torture Now, a grassroots network seeking transparency and accountability for North Carolina’s role in hosting CIA “torture taxis” that have enabled the kidnapping and disappearance of at least 49 Muslim men and women; board member of NCCIT

Prior to the panel, we encourage attendees to view the new film “The Mauritanian.”  For over a decade, we have known that the State of North Carolina has played a major role in the CIA’s use of torture but have been unable to get details about the program from state officials. The film  “The Mauritanian” tells the story of Mohamedou Slahi, who was detained at Guantanamo Bay without charge from 2002 to 2016 and was brutally tortured by the US Government, including being force-fed seawater, sexually assaulted, repeatedly beaten, and subjected to mock executions. 

The virtual panel discussion will feature experts on the history of US torture, the role NC has played in its use, and the intersection of race and carceral abuse. For example, people of color are over-represented in North Carolina’s prisons and jails, and our state’s continued use of solitary confinement amounts to torture and disproportionately targets people of color and people with mental health disabilities. 

“The Mauritanian” has connections to North Carolina:  

* Smithfield-based CIA affiliate Aero Contractors helped the CIA kidnap and “render” Slahi from Jordan to Afghanistan, as documented in the NCCIT report.
*  Slahi testified at the 2018 NC Commission of Inquiry on Torture hearings.
*  The torture regime inflicted on Slahi at Guantanamo was developed by Fort Bragg personnel, and then carried out on Slahi at Guantanamo.
* Cumberbatch’s character, Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch, is a Campbell Law alum, which Campbell is pointing out at that link, and until recently was an immigration judge in Charlotte (now an immigration appeals board member).

And the event on the ACLU website is at this link:

The Zoom Registration is at this link:  

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