DES MOINES, IA. — Retired Generals and Admirals with backgrounds in combat operations, intelligence, law and medicine held individual meetings over the past week in Des Moines with seven presidential candidates to discuss U.S. interrogation and prisoner treatment policies.

The group of senior officers gathered for private one-hour meetings with presidential candidates Senators Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards and Barack Obama and Governors Mike Huckabee and Bill Richardson to discuss the role of the next commander in chief in ensuring that interrogation and prisoner treatment policies are consistent with the welfare of the military and with American laws, values and interests.

All candidates from both parties were invited to meet with the group of retired Generals and Admirals, which is nonpartisan and will not endorse any candidate.

The gathering, hosted by Human Rights First — a leading human rights advocacy organization based in New York City and Washington, DC — was co-chaired by General Joseph P. Hoar, former Commander in Chief of Central Command, which includes the Middle East, and General David M. Maddox, former Commander in Chief, U.S. Army Europe, Vice Admiral Lee F. Gunn, former Inspector General of the Department of the Navy, and Lieutenant General Charles P. Otstott, former Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.

“Those who seek to be commander in chief must be well versed in issues related to the Geneva Conventions and the rules governing treatment of prisoners,” said General Hoar. “This group of experienced military leaders has strong views on these issues. We shared these views in candid conversations with presidential candidates to ensure that they are better informed as they speak about these issues on the campaign trail, and ultimately as one of them assumes the highest office in the nation.”

General Maddox added: “We have watched with concern the manner in which the issue of torture has been raised – in debates and on the campaign trail. In too many instances, the debate about interrogation methods and prisoner treatment has lacked an understanding about the impact that torture has on the safety of American military personnel and the values they fight to defend. This is not just a theoretical issue for me. I have a son and son-in-law in the army and naïve comments about torture puts them and all our servicemembers at greater risk. We must regain the high ground on this, not just with our enemies, but with our allies as well.”

The group met in April in Concord, New Hampshire, where they held the first such meetings with Senators Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, and with Representative Dennis Kucinich. By organizing these meetings and traveling to states that are key in the presidential election process, the Admirals and Generals underscored the fundamental importance of these issues to members of the United States Armed Forces, in the current campaign, and for the next commander in chief.

“While most Generals and Admirals do not get involved in the political fray, even those who are retired, we feel a responsibility at this juncture to do what we can to preserve the values we fought to defend and to uphold the standards of humane treatment on which those serving our country today – and those who will serve it in the future – depend,” added General Hoar.

Generals and Admirals participating include:

General Joseph P. Hoar, USMC (Ret.)

General David M. Maddox, USA (Ret.)

Vice Admiral Lee F. Gunn, USN (Ret.)

Vice Admiral Albert H. Konetzni Jr. (Ret.)

Lieutenant General Charles P. Otstott, USA (Ret.)

Lieutenant General Harry E. Soyster, USA (Ret.)

Rear Admiral Don Guter, USN (Ret.)

Major General Fred E. Haynes, USMC (Ret.)

Major General Melvyn S. Montano, ANG (Ret.)

Major General William L. Nash, USA (Ret.)

Major General Antonio Taguba, USA (Ret.)

Brigadier General James Cullen, USA (Ret.)

Brigadier General David R. Irvine, USA (Ret.)

Brigadier General Murray G. Sagsveen, USA (Ret.)

Brigadier General Stephen N. Xenakis, USA (Ret.)

Published on December 3, 2007


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