National Security

Amnesty International USA believes that governments should not violate human rights in the name of national security, and advocates for critical changes in US policy and practice.


Last updated on December 5, 2023

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  • Tell The US Government: Help Civilians Harmed By US Drone Strikes

    5 min

  • Urge President Biden: Close Guantánamo

    5 min


What is the problem?

On multiple fronts, the United States government is violating human rights in the name of national security.

  1. Muslim men have been held for years at the Guantánamo detention camp in Cuba without even being charged with a crime. Prisoners have been tortured and mistreated, without accountability. None have been given fair trials. Read more about Guantánamo here.

  2. The U.S. has used lethal force, including through drone strikes, in many countries, often in secret, leading to civilian deaths. Military operations have also exposed many people to toxins that have led to devastating medical conditions.

  3. Surveillance and targeting of Muslims – based on who they are, not what they’ve done – has fueled harassment, discrimination, and violence.

  4. The U.S. government has allowed officials to torture people through horrific techniques that violate U.S. and international law.

Why is national security a human rights issue?

By the numbers
Number of people deported under the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System program, without being convicted of any crimes, before it was dismantled

By the numbers
Number of protests Amnesty International USA held in the weeks after President Trump issued his first Muslim Ban

By the numbers
Number of people detained at Guantanamo in September 2023

Who is most impacted?

The Trump administration dramatically expanded the use of lethal strikes, including with drones, killing thousands of civilians and increasing the risk of unlawful killings. Amnesty International has documented large numbers of civilian deaths and injuries from air strikes that the US government refuses to acknowledge, including in Syria and in Somalia. Some of these killings may have violated international law, but the US military is keeping the evidence secret. Take action to tell the United States government to stop killing civilians.

Our research uncovers individual cases of people whose human rights are violated by US national security policies, and we campaign to secure their rights. We campaign to close Guantánamo and ensure accountability for torture. We are urging the Biden administration to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo and close the prison once and for all.

What is the solution?

Amnesty International helps expose and end national security policies that violate human rights. We’ve secured fair treatment for people in individual cases, we’ve helped force the government to release information about its activities, and we’ve played a key role in helping end practices that abuse human rights.

We mobilize grassroots activists to push for federal policies that protect safety and human rights together.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 25: Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi arrives to address the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly at U.N. headquarters on September 25, 2021 in New York City. More than 100 heads of state or government are attending the session in person, although the size of delegations are smaller due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz – Pool/Getty Images)

Press Release

India: Government Weaponizing Terrorism Financing Watchdog Recommendations Against Civil Society

September 26, 2023 – Development and Human Rights

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – 2023/03/18: Protesters hold Woman Life Freedom placards in support of freedom in Iran during the demonstration near BBC headquarters. Thousands of people marched through Central London in support of refugees and in protest against racism and the UK Government’s Illegal Migration Bill. (Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Press Release

Iran: One Year After Uprising, International Community Must Combat Impunity for Brutal Crackdown

September 13, 2023 – economic social and cultural rights

LIMA, PERU – JANUARY 28: Protesters continue their demonstration demanding the resignation of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte after six weeks of violent protests that have left 60 dead in different provinces and the first dead in the Peruvian capital, Lima, on Saturday, January 28, 2023. Demonstrators clashed with riot police during the protest as police used tear gas to disperse the crowd and installed barricades. (Photo by Klebher Vasquez/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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May 29, 2023 – Irán

TOPSHOT – Afghan refugee girls watch a soccer match near where they are staying in the Village at the Ft. McCoy US Army base on September 30, 2021 in Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin. – There are approximately 12,600 Afghan refugees being cared for at the base under Operation Allies Welcome. The Department of Defense, through US Northern Command and US Army North, and in support of the Department of Homeland Security, is providing transportation, temporary housing, medical screening and general support for at least 50,000 Afghan evacuees at suitable facilities in permanent or temporary structures while the Afghans complete the processing necessary to resettle in the United States. (Photo by Barbara Davidson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by BARBARA DAVIDSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Press Release

Afghanistan: Taliban’s Treatment of Women and Girls Should Be Investigated as the Crime Against Humanity of Gender Persecution – New Report

May 25, 2023 – Afghanistan

AME9803. LIMA (PERÚ), 11/12/2022.- Cientos de manifestantes, a favor de Pedro Castillo y en contra del Congreso, se enfrentan con miembros de la policía en las calles del centro, hoy en Lima (Perú). Las manifestaciones, que se han replicado en otras regiones del país, piden el adelanto de elecciones y la renuncia de Boluarte, que el pasado miércoles asumió el cargo tras la destitución por el Congreso de su antecesor Pedro Castillo, quien había dictado la disolución del Congreso, anunciado que conformaría un ejecutivo de emergencia, gobernaría por decreto, convocaría una asamblea constituyente y una reorganización del sistema judicial. EFE/ Aldair Mejía

Press Release

Peru: Senior Officials Should Face Investigation Over Widespread Lethal Attacks By Security Forces

May 25, 2023 – economic social and cultural rights