NEW YORK – Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday she's proud to have been part of an administration that "banned illegal renditions and brutal interrogations" and said the U.S. should never be involved in torture anywhere in the world.
Clinton spoke about the importance of the nation acting in accordance with its values after receiving an award from The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights at a gala in New York.
"Today we can say again in a loud and clear voice that the United States should never condone or practice torture anywhere in the world," Clinton told the audience. "That should be absolutely clear as a matter of both policy and law, including our international treaty obligations."
The remarks marked Clinton's first on the subject since the release of a Senate report last week investigating the CIA's interrogation techniques after 9/11. The report has sparked questions about the appropriate use of force in the war against terrorism.
Clinton said that recent world events, including the mass murder of children in Pakistan and the siege in Sydney, Australia, "should steel our resolve and underscore that our values are what set us apart from our adversaries."
Clinton said Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968, would agree that it's "possible to keep us safe from terrorism and reduce crime and violence without relying on torture abroad or unnecessary force or excessive incarceration at home."
Clinton, a former first lady, New York senator and U.S. Secretary of State, is considering another run for president and is viewed as the likely Democratic nominee if she runs. She was honored at the Kennedy organization's star-studded Ripple of Hope Award ceremony.
Clinton also addressed the recent protests that have raged across the country, and drew links between violence at home and abroad.
She declared, "yes, black lives matter," a mantra of demonstrators around the country who have been protesting recent grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers involved in the deaths of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and in New York.
She wondered what Kennedy would say about "the thousands of Americans marching in our streets demanding justice for all," and "the mothers who've lost their sons."
"What would he say to all those who have lost trust in our government and our other intuitions, who shudder at images of excessive force, who read reports about torture done in the name of our country, who see too many representatives in Washington quick to protect a big bank from regulation but slow to take action to help working families facing ever greater pressure," Clinton said.
Entertainers Robert De Niro and Tony Bennett and Physicians Interactive Chairman Donato Tramuto also were honored.
The nonprofit says the award is meant to laud business leaders, entertainers and activists who demonstrate commitment to social change and "reflect Robert Kennedy's passion for equality, justice, basic human rights, and his belief that we all must strive to 'make gentle the life of this world.'"