Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today praised statements made by cabinet nominees during confirmation hearings this week rejecting the use of torture, and reiterates its call for President-elect Trump to immediately and publicly condemn the practice. During questioning this week Senator Jeff Sessions, General John Kelly, Rex Tillerson, and Representative Mike Pompeo all stated that they would abide by laws that ban the use of torture; in an interview last month President-elect Trump revealed that General James Mattis, nominee for secretary of defense, warned him against the use of waterboarding.
“National security experts, intelligence professionals, and generals and admirals have long-advocated against the use of torture as it is illegal, immoral, and counterproductive. This week’s statements by cabinet nominees are an important step toward reestablishing the bipartisan consensus against torture, and we urge President-elect Trump to heed the wise calls of his advisors,” said Human Rights First’s Raha Wala.
This week The New York Times released a letter signed by 176 of the nation’s most respected retired generals and admirals sent to President-elect Trump urging him to reject the use of torture. The letter, which includes 33 four-star generals and admirals, highlights the United States’ historic bipartisan opposition to torture and calls on President-elect Trump to continue this legacy.
“We have over six thousand years of combined experience in commanding and leading American men and women in war and in peace, and believe strongly in the values and ideals that our country holds dear. We know from experience that U.S. national security policies are most effective when they uphold those ideals,” wrote the generals and admirals. “For these reasons, we are concerned about statements made during the campaign about the use of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody.”
Last year Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Feinstein (D-CA) sponsored landmark anti-torture legislation that reinforces the United States’ ban on the use of torture, including waterboarding and other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The legislation passed the Senate with the support of a broad bipartisan majority, which included the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence, armed services, homeland security, foreign relations, and judiciary committees.