Thirty retired generals are urging President Obama to declassify the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture, arguing that without accountability and transparency the practice could be resumed.
"After taking office, you showed decisive leadership by issuing an executive order banning torture and other forms of abusive interrogation," the retirees say in an open letter released Thursday.
But with former government officials claiming that so-called "enhanced interrogation" techniques were effective, a future president could rescind the ban unless facts in the committee report are known, the generals wrote. The White House did not respond for a request for comment.
The signees include retired Marine Gens. Joseph Hoar and Charles Krulak, Army Gen. David Maddox and Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton. The letter was released through Human Rights First, which said that all the signees are part of a larger nonpartisan group of retired generals and admirals who work with the organization to oppose torture and promote prisoner treatment policies consistent with the Geneva Conventions.
"As retired flag officers of the United States Armed Forces, we believe that our nation is on its strongest footing when our defense and security policies adhere to our values and obligations under domestic and international law," the group said in the letter.
The Senate Intelligence Committee voted in early April to release its abbreviated -- nearly 500-page -- declassified report on the CIA program. The full report, which is more than 6,000 pages, is being held pending redaction and declassification. That process itself has come under criticism since it is the CIA that would be doing the redacting.
The retirees, in their letter, told Obama that it is a conflict of interest to allow the CIA to redact a report that alleges its own officials, including some still on the job, "authorized [the] brutal interrogation methods and systematically misled the White House, Congress, Department of Justice, and American people about the facts and consequences of using those methods."
The "best chance" of avoiding a scenario in which a future president rescinds Obama's executive order banning torture, the group says, "is for the Intelligence Committee's report -- which calls into question the morality, legality, and effectiveness of the CIA program -- to be made public with minimal redactions."
The Senate report panned the CIA program and said the information gathered through torture could have been gotten through other means from the 20 cases it investigated.
This has been disputed by former CIA officials, including former Director Gen. Michael Hayden, while former deputy director and sometimes acting director under Obama, Michael Morrell, has never fully rejected the usefulness of "enhanced interrogation."
Corinne Duffy, spokeswoman for Human Rights First, said the retired generals and admirals worked in 2005 with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to pass the Detainee Treatment Act that reinforced the ban on torture and other cruel and degrading treatment. It also established the Army Field Manual as the single standard of interrogation for all prisoners in DOD custody.
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