Retired Military Leaders Call on 2012 Presidential Candidates to Reject Use of Torture

Washington, DC – Twenty of the nation’s most respected retired military leaders today cautioned Presidential candidates against the use of torture. In a letter today sent to each of the candidates for the 2012 presidency, the group of retired generals and admirals decried the use of torture and so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” as undermining national security and U.S. moral standing, and as a violation of both U.S. and international law. In the public letter, the nonpartisan group of military leaders noted that torture is harmful to U.S. foreign policy, and affirmed that any policy authorizing it would be “counterproductive because our enemies use the indelible images of torture to recruit more terrorists, and our allies refuse to extradite terror suspects to the United States when we do not uphold the law, letting terror suspects escape U.S. justice.” The issue of torture and enhanced interrogation techniques was contentious at last week’s foreign policy debate, with the candidates deeply divided on the issue. During the debate, candidates articulated willingness to defer to the judgment of military leaders in making decisions about the treatment of detainees. The letter added that confessions obtained during torture and enhanced interrogation techniques are unreliable, noting, “anyone who is tortured will lie to make the torture stop, or will provide false and misleading information which can lead investigators to waste crucial time.” The letter’s signatories are part of a larger group of retired generals and admirals who speak out against torture and work to ensure that U.S. policy reflects a single standard of prisoner treatment consistent with the Geneva Conventions. The group worked closely with Senator McCain in 2005 to pass the Detainee Treatment Act which banned torture and limited lawful interrogation to techniques listed in the Army Field Manual. In 2008 they shared their insights with eight Presidential candidates from both parties that torture does immense harm to the reputation of the United States, and undermines efforts to combat terrorism. “We believe that to secure our nation, the United States must always lead by our core principles; that means the United States must never engage in torture or abuse,” the group concluded. Read the letter.


Published on November 22, 2011


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