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Home / Press Release / Human Rights First Urges Senate to Oppose Nomination of Torture Program Lawyer Steven Bradbury
June 26, 2017

Human Rights First Urges Senate to Oppose Nomination of Torture Program Lawyer Steven Bradbury

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today urged senators to oppose the nomination of Steven Bradbury to serve as general counsel in the Department of Transportation as a result of his pivotal role in authorizing the United States’ use of torture when he was a lawyer in the Bush Administration’s Department of Justice. Bradbury’s nomination hearing is set to take place on Wednesday, June 28.

“To allow someone who authorized this illegal, immoral, and counterproductive program to serve in a senior leadership role in the Trump Administration is to willingly forget our nation’s dark history with torture. Torture compromises our nation’s character. As someone who dedicated my life to defending this country, I know that when we engaged in torture we abdicated our moral leadership in the world, and made America less safe,” said General Charles C. Krulak (ret.), former commandant of the Marine Corps. 

Bradbury served as the acting head of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) from 2005 to 2009 under the Bush Administration. During his time at DOJ, he drafted policy memoranda that authorized the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of detainees held by the United States. Not only did Bradbury authorize illegal interrogation techniques, but vehemently misrepresented his legal conclusions in authorizing torture to members of Congress.  

“The consequences of our nation’s use of cruelty are staggering: the torture program cost us key alliances with partners, undermined our ability to distinguish ourselves from our adversaries, and compromised our national security,” said Alberto Mora, former general counsel of the Navy, who fought to prohibit the use of torture while at the Department of Defense. “If we are to truly reconcile with our past and commit ourselves to ensuring that torture is never again the law of the land, then we cannot allow those who authorized the program to serve in current or future administrations.”

Secretary of Defense Mattis, Secretary of Homeland Security Kelly, Secretary of State Tillerson, Attorney General Sessions, and CIA Director Pompeo all publicly confirmed that they would refuse to allow a return to torture.

“I firmly believe the Senate should not allow our country to be dragged backwards by rewarding an individual who was complicit in the United States’ use of torture,” said Col. Steven Kleinman (ret.), a former Air Force interrogator with experience in three major conflicts. "I have conducted and supervised hundreds of interrogations throughout my career, and I know that torture simply does not work at gaining actionable intelligence. Beyond the unreliable nature of information obtained through torture, as a former senior intelligence officer I was acutely aware of the strategic consequences that would arise from our loss of the moral high ground.”

Human Rights First, along with 14 other leading human rights groups sent a letter to the Senate expressing serious concerns about Bradbury’s nomination. The letter comes on the heels of reports that torture has been used in secret detention facilities in Yemen operated by Yemeni and United Arab Emirates forces, and potential U.S. cooperation with these forces.

Today also marks International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, created by the United Nations as an annual opportunity to speak out against torture and show support for victims and survivors.

For more information or to speak with Gen. Krulak, Mora, or Kleinman, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.