Oscar Winner, Former National Security Advisor, Retired Generals to Urge President to Sign Anti-Torture Bill

WASHINGTON—A diverse panel of national security leaders who have served at the highest levels of government and in the military, along with an Academy Award winner and an expert in human rights law, will brief the media by telephone on Friday, February 29th at 11:00 AM EST to discuss why they are urging President Bush to sign legislation requiring the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agents to adhere to a single standard of humane treatment for all prisoners in US. custody — effectively outlawing the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding.

Participants include: Oscar winning documentary film-maker Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side); National Security Advisor (1983-85) Robert McFarlane; former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) during DESERT SHIELD/STORM Lieutenant General Harry E. Soyster, USA (Ret.); and former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina Major General William L. Nash, USA (Ret.). The panel will be moderated by Human Rights First Washington Director Elisa Massimino, a national expert on human rights law. Bios of the participants follow below.

To join this call, please dial (800)540-0559 and enter passcode 7017413. An extensive opportunity for questions will follow brief presentations by each panelist.

Section 327 of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 would restore dignity and the rule of law to prisoner treatment and interrogation policy by requiring adherence to the Army Field Manual by all U.S. interrogators. The bill will be sent to the president on Friday, and he has stated his intent to veto it.

WHO: Alex Gibney, Oscar winning film-maker (Taxi to the Dark Side),

Robert McFarlane, National Security Advisor (1983-85)

Lieutenant General Harry E. Soyster, USA (Ret.) former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency

Major General William L. Nash, USA (Ret.), former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina

WHAT: The group will brief reporters by telephone on the national security importance of legislation, passed in both Houses, requiring the intelligence agencies to adhere to the interrogation rules contained in the Army Field Manual. The participants will urge that President Bush sign the bill to ensure a single standard of humane treatment for all prisoners in U.S. custody.

WHEN: Friday, February 29th at 11:00 AM EST

TO JOIN: Dial (800)540-0559 and enter passcode 7017413.


Robert C. (Bud) McFarlane was the National Security Advisor under President Reagan from 1983-1985. After a distinguished career in the Marine Corps, which included his selection as a White House Fellow and four years as Military Assistant to Dr. Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft, McFarlane retired from the marines and entered civilian government service. In 1981 he was appointed as Counselor to the Department of State where he was responsible for sensitive exchanges with Heads of State in the Middle East and South Asia. Subsequently he was appointed successively as President Reagan’s Deputy National Security Advisor, and as his Special Representative in the Middle East. Following that assignment he returned to the White House and was appointed to the Reagan Cabinet as National Security Advisor.

Mr. McFarlane is best remembered as the architect of the comprehensive set of U.S. policies – including most notably the Strategic Defense Initiative (or Star Wars) – which so stressed the Soviet economy as to bring it down, in the process accelerating the collapse of Marxism in the former Soviet Union.

McFarlane retired from government in 1985 and founded his own company, Global Energy Investors (GEI), a developer of energy infrastructure projects in Asia, South America and Eastern Europe. He is a co-founder (with Dr. Henry Kissinger) and Vice Chair of the America-China Society, serves on the Board of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the White House Fellows’ Foundation, and has been a member of the Boards of The Travelers, Dillon Read (France Fund), and Church & Dwight.

Alex Gibney won the Oscar for best documentary feature at the Academy Awards on Sunday for his film Taxi to the Dark Side. He has been recognized for producing one of the top grossing documentaries of all time, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which was Oscar nominated and won both a Grammy and an Emmy. In addition, Gibney is sought after for his experience in mounting large international productions, particularly multi-part series, such as Martin Scorsese’s Emmy and Grammy award-winning “The Blues” and David Halberstam’s “The Fifties.” Gibney is the leading creative force behind Jigsaw Productions, which he founded in 1982. He is well known for crafting stories that take an unflinching look at the political landscape of America.

Lieutenant General Harry E. Soyster, USA (Ret.) served as Director, Defense Intelligence Agency during DESERT SHIELD/STORM. He also served as Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army, Commanding General, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command and in the Joint Reconnaissance Center, Joint Chiefs of Staff. In Vietnam he was an operations officer in a field artillery battalion. Upon retirement he was VP for International Operations with Military Professional Resources Incorporated and returned to government as Special Assistant to the SEC ARMY for WWII 60th Anniversary Commemorations completed in 2006.

Major General William L. Nash, USA (Ret.) has been with the Council on Foreign Relations since March, 2001. A veteran of Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm and 34 years of Army service, he has extensive experience in peacekeeping operations both as a military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina and as a civil administrator for the United Nations in Kosovo. In addition to his duties at the Council on Foreign Relations, Bill Nash is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, a visiting lecturer at Princeton University, and a military consultant to ABC News.

Elisa Massimino is Washington Director of Human Rights First. She is an expert on a range of international human rights issues and a national authority on U.S. compliance with human rights law. As the organization’s chief advocacy strategist, she testifies frequently before Congress, writes extensively for legal and popular publications, and serves as one of the organization’s primary spokespeople with the media. She has taught human rights law at the University of Virginia, and teaches human rights advocacy at Georgetown University Law Center.


Published on February 28, 2008


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