Military Leaders Speak Out Against Torture

We want to give a special shout out to our director, Dr. Richard O’Meara, who alongside other prominent military officials voiced his opposition to the use of torture. The attached lettersigned by over a hundred retired military personnel is a testament to the commitment of our armed forces, regardless of political party, to uphold the values of our nation and the rule of law. Their willingness to express their concerns regarding the current administration’s discourse advocating the use of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody has had an impact on the testimony of the nominees for Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Director of CIA. Thank you Dr. O’Meara for your service and your courageousness to speak out against an act that is unnecessary, counterproductive and antithetical to the core of our nation’s beliefs. Below please find the statements of the various nominees that have either been confirmed or are awaiting decisions.

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Jeff Sessions (Nominated Attorney General):

  • "Congress has taken an action now that makes it absolutely improper and illegal to use waterboarding or any other form of torture in the United States by our military and by all other departments and agencies."

John Kelly (Confirmed Homeland Security Secretary):

  • Sen. McCain:  “General, as you know, we passed legislation on the defense bill prohibiting torture, including waterboarding.  Do you intend to follow that law?”
  • Kelly:  “Absolutely Senator.”
  • Sen McCain:  “And what is your personal view of waterboarding and other forms of torture?”
  • Kelly:  “Senator, I don’t think we should ever come close to crossing the line that is beyond what we as Americans would expect to follow in terms of interrogation techniques.”

Rex Tillerson (Confirmed Secretary of State):

  • Sen. Markey:  “President-elect Trump has argued the the United States should again waterboard terrorists.  Yesterday Sen. Sessions said that would be illegal.  Sen. Mattis has said that it would be ineffective. Will you advise President-elect Trump that torture in any form is illegal, immoral, and ineffective.
  • Tillerson:  “Well, I think others have opined on that sufficiently and I wouldn’t disagree with what they said.
  • Sen Markey:  “You agree with what they said?”
  • Tillerson:  “I would agree with what they have said.”

Mike Pompeo (Confirmed CIA Director):

  • Sen. Feinstein:  “If you were asked by the President to restart the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques that fall outside of the Army Field Manual, would you comply?”
  • Pompeo:  “Absolutely not.”

James Mattis (Confirmed Secretary of Defense):

  • His feeling has been made known through his interviews with the NYT and his advice given to Trump.  He also placed the following for the record.  “I fully support using the Army Field Manual as the single standard for all U.S. military interrogations.  I upheld that same standard before and after it was adopted in 2006."

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