Retired Military Leader Says Torture, Not Report, Makes America Less Safe
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today welcomed statements from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterating President Obama’s support for the Senate intelligence committee’s CIA torture report. These statements came just before news reports that Secretary of State John Kerry called Senator Dianne Feinstein asking her to further delay release of the report. The call has been denied by the State Department.
“It’s never easy to own up to past mistakes, and there’s never a good time to do it,” said Major General Michael R. Lehnert, the first commander of the detention facility at Guantanamo. “But we’ll be stronger as a nation if we improve our detention and interrogation practices, and that’s exactly what this report will help us do. I strongly support moving forward to release this report.”
The Senate intelligence committee’s 6,000-plus-page study of the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program is one of Congress’s most comprehensive and thorough oversight endeavors in history. For months Senate intelligence committee staff and the CIA have been engaged in protracted discussions about the extent to which the committee’s report on the post-9/11 CIA torture program should be redacted.
Release of the report has received the widespread support of political, national security, and a full spectrum of intelligence leaders, including among Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The report was initiated, adopted, and submitted for declassification on three independent, bipartisan votes. The nonpartisan group of retired generals and admirals who stood with President Obama in the Oval Office as he signed an executive order banning torture have tirelessly advocated for the report’s release. In addition, some of the nation’s most respected interrogation and intelligence experts recently released a statement of principles denouncing torture and calling for the committee to release its findings.