Retired Military Leaders Urge White House to Lead Declassification of CIA Torture Report

Washington, D.C. – Thirty of the nation’s most respected retired generals and admirals today urged President Obama to lead the declassification process of the Senate intelligence committee’s CIA torture report. The call came in a letter to the president that highlighted the clear conflict of interest in the CIA redacting a report that is critical of the agency’s post-9/11 program.

“There is a clear conflict of interest in allowing the CIA to redact a report that alleges that officials at the agency—some of whom still work there—authorized brutal interrogation methods and systematically misled the White House, Congress, Department of Justice, and American people about the facts and consequences of using those methods,” noted the generals and admirals.

Last month the Senate intelligence committee voted 11-3 to declassify and release the findings, conclusions, and executive summary of its 6,300-plus page report detailing facts about the CIA torture program. The report is now with the White House, where President Obama has stated that he unequivocally supports its public release.

“As retired flag officers of the United States Armed Forces, we believe that our nation is on its strongest footing when our defense and security policies adhere to our values and obligations under domestic and international law,” wrote the generals and admirals. “Because there has been little accountability or public transparency regarding the use of torture, many former government officials—including the former Deputy Director of the CIA from your administration—continue to advocate in favor of the effectiveness of so-called ‘enhanced interrogation,’ laying the foundation for a future president to rescind your executive order and bring torture back.”

Today’s signatories are members of a larger nonpartisan group of retired generals and admirals who work with Human Rights First to speak out against torture and to ensure that U.S. policy reflects a single standard of prisoner treatment consistent with the Geneva Conventions. The group, including members who stood with President Obama in the Oval Office as he signed his executive order banning torture, has voiced strong support for declassification of the Senate intelligence committee’s report. They also worked closely with Senator John McCain in 2005 to pass the Detainee Treatment Act that reinforced the ban on torture and other cruel and degrading treatment, and established the Army Field Manual as the single standard of interrogation for all prisoners in DOD custody. 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.


Published on May 1, 2014


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