CIA Director Pompeo Urged to Uphold Commitments to Reject Torture

Washington, D.C.—In response to the Senate’s confirmation of Rep. Mike Pompeo to serve as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Human Rights First’s Raha Wala has issued the following statement:

“We look forward to working with the new director and his staff to protect U.S. national security while upholding American ideals, and call on Pompeo to honor his commitment to refuse any attempts or orders to bring back torture, a promise he made while testifying before the Senate intelligence committee.”

Human Rights First notes that military leaders, experienced interrogators, intelligence professionals, and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle agree that torture is illegal, immoral, and counterproductive.

During questioning before the Senate, Senator Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, Rex Tillerson, and Director Pompeo all stated that they would abide by laws that ban the use of torture; in an interview last month President Trump revealed that Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned him against the use of waterboarding.

Earlier this month 176 of the nation’s most respected retired generals and admirals sent a letter to President Trump urging him to reject the use of torture. The letter, which includes 33 four-star generals and admirals, highlights the United States’ historic bipartisan opposition to torture and calls on President Trump to continue this legacy.

“We have over six thousand years of combined experience in commanding and leading American men and women in war and in peace, and believe strongly in the values and ideals that our country holds dear. We know from experience that U.S. national security policies are most effective when they uphold those ideals,” wrote the generals and admirals. “For these reasons, we are concerned about statements made during the campaign about the use of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody.”

Last year Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Feinstein (D-CA) sponsored landmark anti-torture legislation that reinforces the United States’ ban on the use of torture, including waterboarding and other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The legislation passed the Senate with the support of a broad bipartisan majority, which included the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence, armed services, homeland security, foreign relations, and judiciary committees.


Published on January 23, 2017


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