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Brian Dooley
As director of the Human Rights Defenders program, Brian leads Human Rights First’s efforts to ensure that human rights defenders can work free from harm and interference, engaging with the U.S. government and with other partners to end threats and obstacles to human rights work.

For the 20 years prior to joining Human Rights First, Brian worked for U.S., Irish and international NGOs. Most recently, Brian led Amnesty International’s work on partnering with national NGOs in the global South. Brian has also worked as Head of Media for Amnesty International in London and in Dublin, and as Director of Communications for Public Citizen in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books about civil rights and U.S. politics, and had early experience on the Hill, interning for Senator Edward Kennedy in the mid-80s as a legislative researcher, contributing to what ultimately became the 1986 Anti-Apartheid Act. Before that, he lived and worked as an English teacher and community organizer in a black township in South Africa in 1981-82, which was prohibited under apartheid’s racial segregation laws.

Brian has an MPhil in Government and Politics from The Open University in London, and a B.A. with honors in Political Science from the University of East Anglia.

Entries by Brian Dooley

The Beginning of the End for Bahrain's Tolerated Opposition

(0) Comments | Posted January 23, 2015 | 4:43 PM

The trial of Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of Bahrain's main opposition group Al Wefaq, opens on Wednesday, January 28, and marks a massive step away from hopes of an inclusive political settlement in the turbulent country. Bahrain, a U.S. military ally, has failed to implement long-promised reforms. The last few...

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Hussain Jawad Case Presents Bahrain With Key Test on Speech

(0) Comments | Posted January 12, 2015 | 2:17 PM

Yesterday, Bahrain's foreign minister took part in a Paris rally in protest of the recent killings at the Charlie Hebdo offices and elsewhere. Meanwhile, his government continues to harass journalists and other peaceful critics, including human rights defender Hussain Jawad, who is charged with free speech-related offenses and faces court...

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CIA Torture's Immeasurable Damage to U.S. Global Leadership

(3) Comments | Posted January 1, 2015 | 5:03 PM

Last month's revelations about CIA torture have hurt U.S. credibility worldwide. The Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA Interrogation concluded the program "created tensions with U.S. partners and allies...complicating bilateral intelligence relationships." It said the program caused "immeasurable damage to the United States' public standing, as well as to the...

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How CIA Torture Didn't Prevent an Attack on Heathrow

(16) Comments | Posted December 23, 2014 | 1:40 PM

Nine years ago today CIA Director Porter Goss wrote to senior U.S. intelligence officers assuring them that the agency's torture interrogations "produced intelligence that allowed the U.S... to disrupt attacks such as 911-style attacks planned for... Heathrow airport. I can inform you with confidence that this program has allowed the...

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The CIA Torture Report and the UK's Hooded Men

(0) Comments | Posted December 16, 2014 | 4:36 PM

That the CIA thought Wembley is an "area of South London" (p.271) wasn't the most shocking revelation in the report released last week by the U.S. Senate intelligence committee, but it added to the general sense of incompetence by the intelligence agency.

What mattered more was that the CIA interrogation...

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Seven Helpful Things the New Ambassador to Bahrain Can Do

(0) Comments | Posted December 16, 2014 | 4:31 PM

Washington's new ambassador to Bahrain, Bill Roebuck, is set to take up his post in the coming weeks and will be hoping for a smoother ride than his predecessor Tom Krajeski, who was attacked by both the Bahrain government for meddling in internal affairs and by...

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5 Useful Things America's New Ambassador to Egypt Can Do

(0) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 1:45 PM

New U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Stephen Beecroft is expected to arrive in Cairo in the coming weeks to start work. Although he doesn't decide U.S. policy on Egypt, he will be the U.S. official who gets to explain it to Egypt's government and people, setting the tone for how the...

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Seven Things to Watch For in Bahrain's Upcoming Elections

(0) Comments | Posted November 18, 2014 | 4:08 PM

On Saturday, U.S. ally Bahrain will have its first parliamentary elections since the 2011 mass demonstrations calling for democratic reform. The troubled kingdom has been rocked by nearly four years of political unrest since these demonstrations were violently suppressed by the government. Up for a vote are candidates for the...

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Six Things to Watch Out for in Ukraine's Elections

(0) Comments | Posted October 24, 2014 | 6:38 PM

Parliamentary elections take place in Ukraine on Sunday and are expected to show what direction the under-pressure country is taking. After the Maidan movement protests led to the ouster of the Russian-leaning President Yanukovych in February, a more European-friendly President, Poroshenko was elected in May. This election represents the next...

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Is the United States Government Finally Losing Patience With Bahrain?

(0) Comments | Posted October 20, 2014 | 6:08 PM

The U.S. State Department today reacted to a decision by a Bahraini judge not to release activist Nabeel Rajab from custody and to adjourn his case until October 29. Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said the U.S. government did

"not agree with the prosecution of individuals for crimes of peaceful...
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Bahrain Human Rights Defender Faces Charges for Tweet

(0) Comments | Posted October 12, 2014 | 12:25 PM

Within two weeks of releasing leading human rights defender Maryam Al Khawaja from jail the Bahrain authorities detained another. On September 30 Nabeel Rajab was taken into custody for allegedly insulting the Bahrain regime on twitter.

Rajab has been exposing human rights violations by the U.S. ally for...

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What's Next for Maryam Al Khawaja?

(0) Comments | Posted September 18, 2014 | 3:39 PM

Today's release of Maryam Al Khawaja after nearly three weeks in jail is welcome. But it's tempered by news that the government has maintained the charge against her and imposed a travel ban that prevents from her from leaving the country.

(Maryam and...
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A Day in the Life of Maryam Al Khawaja

(0) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 8:53 PM

A day spent working with Bahraini human rights activist Maryam Al Khawaja is likely to be kinetic. I've had the privilege of trying to keep up with her in Washington, New York, Geneva and elsewhere as she championed the cause of democracy and human rights in Bahrain. She's passionate, energetic...

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Abdulhadi Al Khawaja Embarks on Hunger Strike

(0) Comments | Posted August 28, 2014 | 6:43 PM

It's a political prisoner's last card. Going on a hunger strike is a highly dangerous move, especially for people in fragile health.

Abdulhadi Al Khawaja - perhaps Bahrain's most prominent human rights defender - began a hunger strike in Bahrain's Jaw prison earlier this week. He is taking...

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The Exceptional Egyptian Human Rights Defender Yara Sallam

(1) Comments | Posted August 14, 2014 | 10:17 PM

Human rights defenders aren't always easy company. It's their job to be stubborn and sure of themselves, so they're often intense, sometimes abrasive.

Yara Sallam is an exception. She's funny, engaging, and easygoing. And she's in jail in Cairo. She's been there since June 21, arrested on baseless charges...

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U.S. Highlights Bahrain Sectarianism in New Religious Freedom Report

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 3:25 PM

Today's State Department report on international religious freedom for 2013 is unlikely to heal the increasing rift between the U.S. Government and Bahrain.

In recent weeks tension has increased as the Bahrain regime expelled State Department Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski...

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Bahrain Regime Targets Opposition -- and the United States

(0) Comments | Posted July 24, 2014 | 12:42 PM

After nearly three years in the job, the much-vilified U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain, Thomas Krajeski, will be replaced - if the U.S. Senate agrees to his confirmation - by William Roebuck, a middle east specialist at the State Department. After stints in embassies in Libya, Iraq, Syria and...

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Washington's Bahrain Problem Gets Worse

(1) Comments | Posted July 10, 2014 | 12:36 PM

This week the Bahrain ruling family has revealed itself as an increasingly embarrassing, erratic ally for the United States. Monday's decision to kick out State Department Assistant Secretary Tom Malinowski was shocking if not entirely surprising.

Malinowski's sin was, apparently, to talk to Bahrain's main opposition party Al Wifaq without...

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Where's the Ukrainian Far Right Now?

(4) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 4:35 PM

After strong showings at the polls a few years ago, Ukraine's far right has sunk to virtual electoral oblivion, and it's hard to know where or if it will reappear. Its role in defending protestors against the Yanukovych government, overthrown in February this year, didn't translate into widespread support in...

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It's Time Kyiv Got It Right

(0) Comments | Posted July 5, 2014 | 6:08 PM


Of course, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best. "Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was 'well timed' in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation," he said. "For...

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