Retired Military Leaders and Intelligence Professionals Support the McCain-Feinstein Anti-Torture Amendment

By Carolyn Tackett

More than twenty national security and intelligence experts have arrived in Washington, D.C. to meet with senators to discuss the McCain-Feinstein Amendment, which would strengthen the ban against torture of detainees in U.S. custody. The group includes four-star generals, former interrogators, and the chair of the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group Research Committee.

Retired generals and admirals as well as intelligence and interrogation professionals have sent letters to senators urging them to support the anti-torture amendment.

These leaders have identified torture as a major threat to American national security.

Non-abusive interrogation methods provide more reliable information than that extracted through torture and mistreatment. “Torture guarantees pain. It never guarantees the truth,” retired FBI interrogator Joe Navarro told Human Rights First. Detainees will say whatever they think their interrogators want to hear to end the abuse, and with torture it becomes much more difficult for interrogators to evaluate information detainees provide.

The use of torture also increases hostility abroad, provides recruitment propaganda to terrorists, and puts American soldiers at greater risk.

Further, the use of torture goes against America’s core values. In his remarks from the Senate floor defending the release of the SSCI torture report last year, Senator John McCain said, “The use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies: our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights.”

The McCain-Feinstein Anti-Torture Amendment to the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act is a bipartisan initiative that builds on the progress made through the Detainee Treatment Act championed by Senator McCain in 2005.

Ten years ago, the Detainee Treatment Act passed the Senate in an overwhelming 90-9 vote, prohibiting “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” of detainees and requiring “uniform standards” under the Army Field Manual for interrogations within the military. But the bill didn’t apply those standards to the CIA.

The McCain-Feinstein Anti-Torture Amendment would ensure the horrific mistreatment of detainees like that detailed in the SSCI report will never happen again at the hand of the U.S. government. Passing the amendment is an important step toward restoring America’s legitimacy as a global leader on human rights and the eradication of torture.

Click here to join human rights groups and this community of national security and intelligence experts in voicing your support for a legislative ban on torture.

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Published on June 9, 2015

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