During a conference call with reporters this afternoon, retired military leaders with whom HRF has been working expressed confidence in the new administration’s commitment to human rights:
“There was a sense, I think, of satisfaction but also very much determination; determination that this was the right thing to do and that we would be consistent with this going forward” said retired Admiral John Hutson.
“There was certainly among us, the sixteen retired generals that were there, a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction and joy, perhaps, that the country was getting back on track with regards to the issues that we feel so strongly about.”
The retired Admiral went on to laud Obama’s executive orders regarding Guantanamo and the treatment of prisoners, pointing to the advantages of due process in civilian courts. The delegation noted the use of Guantanamo torture as “recruiting posters” for Al-Qaeda, the counterproductive nature of torture, and the tone of discipline that will be set by changing these practices.
Human Rights First has been working to advance prisoner treatment qualities, and has been active in legislative and public debates about torture over the last several years. They see the three executive orders which Obama signed today as congruent with their goals, and a definitive step in the right direction.
Retired Admiral Lee Gunn reminded reporters of the tone of President Obama’s meeting: “There will be substatial conversation… about what happens looking back… But at the moment, and it strikes me as being completely appropriate, the focus is on moving forward.”