Senators raise issue with Trump torture, detention policies

congressThe Ranking Members of the Senate Intelligence, Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Judiciary and Appropriations Committees have sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo expressing alarm at reports that Administration is reportedly considering an Executive Order that would revoke the bans on CIA “black site” detention facilities and interrogation techniques that aren’t in the U.S. Army Field Manual.

“We are deeply concerned by reports that the Administration is considering an Executive Order to review resuming CIA “black site” detention and prohibited interrogation activities (potentially including, among other practices, waterboarding), making changes to the Army Field Manual on Interrogation, as well as sending additional detainees to the detention facility at Guantanamo. Those reports, as well as comments by the President, have created alarm that this administration may be preparing a return to policies and practices that are ineffective, contrary to our national values, and damaging to our national security,” wrote the Senators.

The letter was signed by Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence; Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee; Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee; Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee; and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

“Torture is immoral and deeply contrary to the principles of this nation. Beyond that, it is widely recognized as ineffective and even counter-productive, as it produces unreliable information,” wrote the Senators. “The use of torture and secret foreign prisons were a boon to terrorist groups, helping their propaganda and recruitment efforts.  Moreover, these practices frayed our relations with key allies, some of whom have faced legal liability before their own or international courts.  Similarly, these practices put our own forces and personnel at risk of legal liability and being subjected to harsh treatment when they are detained.”

According to press reports, a draft of the Executive Order also asserts it is in “the interests of the United States” to maintain the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Senators reminded Secretary Mattis and Director Pompeo that both the Bush and Obama administrations worked to close the detention center at Guantanamo because they realized that both the moral and financial costs were not justified and that there were better, more humane alternatives.

“We cannot go back to those practices if we want the United States of America to continue to serve as a beacon of justice, law and human rights for the world. We appreciate your firm commitments in the confirmation process to follow the law.  We remain firmly opposed to changing the law or any policy that could bring back these abhorrent and ineffective practices,” the Senators told Secretary Mattis and Director Pompeo.

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