The U.S. government’s misguided embrace of torture, secret prisons, and renditions to torture over the past seven years have undermined its counterterrorism efforts, provided enemies with an easy recruiting tool, and diminished the United States’ reputation as a world leader in advancing and upholding human rights. Restoring our nation’s commitment to humane treatment must be a top priority for the next president. This is not a partisan issue; during the 2008 presidential campaign, both President-elect Barack Obama and Senator John McCain acknowledged the damage to the reputation of the United States that has been caused by this policy of torture and official cruelty, and each has vowed as president to uphold existing bans on torture the Bush Administration has flouted.
Making good on this pledge, and inoculating against future abuses, will require both a dismantling of a cynical legal framework that sanctions torture and cruel treatment and a comprehensive examination of policies and practices that have endorsed cruelty. It will also require investment in a sustained long-term strategy for effective human intelligence gathering which adheres to United States and international law.
This Blueprint offers a three-stage strategy for the United States to reclaim its values, ideals, and commitment to human rights, as well as strengthen U.S. intelligence-gathering practices and other counterterrorism efforts.