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February 15, 2013

Retired Generals and Admirals Call on Obama to Support Public Release of CIA Torture Report

Washington, DC – Twenty-eight of the nation’s most respected retired generals and admirals today sent a letter to President Obama urging him to publicly support declassification of the Senate intelligence committee’s report on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) interrogation and detention practices. Today’s letter comes as the White House is set to give comments to the Senate intelligence committee on the CIA Torture Report.

Today’s letter to President Obama calls on him to end the debate around torture, as it corrodes the United States’ national character. “Your leadership in 2009—by issuing an executive order on your second day in office banning torture and closing the CIA’s secret sites where torture occurred—put an end to a shameful chapter in our nation’s history,” noted the retired generals and admirals. “Many of us signing this letter stood behind you in the Oval Office on that day.  We are committed to ensuring that our Nation never adopts the policies of torture and abuse that you so rightly rejected.  And we are convinced that this cause requires an honest assessment of past practices, so that we do not repeat mistakes of the past.”

The 6,000+ page CIA Torture Report, if released to the public, will formally set the record straight on the role that torture played in gaining actionable intelligence and impacting U.S. national security interests.

“Until the SSCI study is made public, those who argue that torture was necessary and instrumental in the fight against terrorism and the elimination of Osama bin Laden will continue to find adherents,” noted the retired military leaders.

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 worked closely with Senator John McCain in 2005 to pass the Detainee Treatment Act which 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.