The US has more intelligent, effective, and principled ways of responding to national security threats than stooping to barbaric practices used by groups such as the Islamic State. Respecting fundamental rights has always been in the best long-term interests of the United States.
Acknowledging legal limits on the use of force by US forces was a positive step, but as you undoubtedly know, family members of combatants may not legally be targets of attack unless they are directly participating in the hostilities. Attacking them violates international legal protections for civilians and is a form of collective punishment. Anyone ordering such attacks would be subject to prosecution for war crimes. You should reaffirm US commitments to the Geneva Conventions and other international laws of war.
The risks to due process and community safety are also severe. Expanding the flawed expedited removal mechanism to carry out deportations more rapidly, for example, would cause enormous damage to due process and risk numerous wrongful deportations. Your proposal to ramp up immigration enforcement using local police would have the effect of promoting racial profiling, fear, and distrust of police, ultimately damaging public safety.
You have accepted the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding marriage equality on the ground that it is “settled” law, but the court’s recognition of reproductive freedom has been settled for more than forty years, with a series of cases reaffirming the privacy rights first protected in Roe v. Wade.
As president you should no longer disregard such violence and discrimination but will have a duty to make strong efforts to combat it by fully supporting laws, policies, and government institutions that promote women’s safety from violence.
For years, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, the United States has shown strong leadership in attacking such damaging practices as child marriage, gender-based violence, and human trafficking. You are in a position to enhance rather than undermine that important legacy. Critical will be nominating a highly qualified proponent of women's rights to lead the State Department's Office of Global Women's Issues, and ensuring that the office has sufficient resources and authority.
You should rescind Bannon’s appointment, and state forcefully, publicly, and clearly that discriminatory acts and statements will have no place in your administration.
The Russian government has embraced these practices and contributed to Syria military equipment and technical, financial, and human support to assist Assad in his brutal campaigns. It has also joined in the bombing of civilians and civilian structures. In addition, Russia has provided President Assad political protection at the UN Security Council.
In these circumstances, partnering militarily with Russia would likely ratchet up abuse against civilians, intensify the adverse consequences, undermine prospects for a diplomatic resolution of the conflict, and discredit the United States throughout the region. Partnering with Russia and Syria on military operations could also make the US government complicit in their war crimes and crimes against humanity and expose US personnel to legal liability.
Human Rights Watch