In anticipation of the Senate confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees this week, Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA issued the following statement:
“If they are confirmed, these nominees will make decisions that affect the human rights of millions of people in the U.S. and around the world. Some of these nominees have expressed views on torture, discrimination, and oppressive governments that are troubling. They should be questioned vigorously, and they must commit to protecting human rights.
“President-elect Trump’s campaign was marked with dangerous rhetoric, and these nominees could be tasked with making that rhetoric a reality. We cannot let that happen.”
AIUSA has raised questions about several of the nominees, including:
o Rex Tillerson, nominee for Secretary of State, who as chief executive of Exxon Mobile has engaged in close business relationships with oppressive governments, including Russia, China, and Equatorial Guinea. He hasn’t explained whether his approach to governments that violate human rights reflects his business philosophy or his world view.
o Mike Pompeo, nominee for the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, who has defended torture, calling the CIA’s former program of secret detention and torture “within the law.”.”
o General James Mattis, nominee for Secretary of Defense, who has signaled support for keeping the remaining Guantánamo detainees there indefinitely.
o General John Kelly, nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security, who could refuse—or carry out—policies to establish a registry of American Muslims or ban refugees who happen to be Muslim.
o Senator Jeff Sessions, nominee for Attorney General, who has been on the wrong side of a host of issues that reflect the United States’ commitment to human rights and international law, including stating that he is open to considering a ban on Muslim immigration, opposing marriage equality, and fighting efforts that would advance voting rights.