Washington, D.C. – Retired Generals Joseph P. Hoar and Charles C. Krulak today sent a letter to President Obama urging his administration to unconditionally oppose torture at the U.N. Committee on the Convention Against Torture (CAT) next month. The generals serve as co-chairs of a nonpartisan group of more than 50 retired generals and admirals who oppose torture and stood behind President Obama when he signed the executive order banning torture on his second day in office.
“As a senator, you rightly endorsed Senator McCain’s effort to affirm the treaty’s [CAT] worldwide reach,” wrote the generals to President Obama. “In the interest of U.S. national security – and your own legacy on torture – you must stand by this position. There is no room for legal or moral ambiguity on torture.”
Earlier this month, it was reported that State Department attorneys are urging President Obama to “officially abandon” the George W. Bush Administration’s stance on the U.N. CAT, a recommendation that has been met with some skepticism by defense and intelligence attorneys, who say they need more time to consider implications of adhering to the torture treaty. The Bush Administration interpreted the treaty, which bans “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” of prisoners, as not applying to CIA and military prisons overseas. The 2005 position drew bipartisan protests and was opposed by then-Senator Barack Obama. The Obama Administration must make its final decision on the matter before it travels to Geneva next month to appear before the United Nations Committee Against Torture, which monitors compliance with the torture treaty.
“In January 2009, you signed an executive order banning torture. It was one of your greatest accomplishments as president and an essential recommitment to American ideals,” wrote the generals. “The trip to the ‘dark side’ after 9/11 tarnished America’s reputation. Next month in Geneva you have a chance to reassert U.S. global leadership on torture. We urge you to do exactly that.”