Trump’s CIA Pick Must Disavow Torture – and Commit to Upholding the Law

By Ann Burroughs, Chair of AIUSA’s Board of Directors

Donald Trump has made it clear he wants bring back torture. “We should go much stronger than waterboarding,” he said last year, calling it “your minor form” of torture.

Now he’s picked Rep. Mike Pompeo to head the CIA – an individual who called the CIA’s program of torture and disappearing under the Bush administration “within the law” and “within the Constitution.”

We can’t let Trump bring back the CIA torture program. Trump’s pick for CIA chief must reject torture – and commit to upholding the law.

That’s why this week, Amnesty International USA’s Board of Directors wrote the Senate Intelligence Committee urging senators to seek Pompeo’s explicit commitment to upholding U.S. and international law on torture and other ill-treatment.

The fight against torture under the Trump administration starts with you – Take action.

Our letter points out that four of the individuals most recently confirmed to direct the CIA—Porter Goss, Leon Panetta, General David Petraeus and John Brennan—used their confirmation hearings to condemn torture as morally reprehensible and inconsistent with U.S. values and legal commitments. “These are values we have fought for, that Americans have died for over the course of decades and centuries,” General Petraeus testified.

But this isn’t about whether Trump or Pompeo agree with us that torture is wrong. Regardless of their personal views, torture is a crime. It violates unequivocal U.S. and international law, including laws long supported by members of both parties. Here are just a few examples:

  • The U.S. led in the negotiation of the UN Convention Against Torture, and President Ronald Reagan, who signed it in April 1988, wrote that its ratification “will clearly express [U.S.] opposition to torture.”
  • Federal law makes torture and ill-treatment illegal without exception—no matter where a person is held (at Guantánamo, in secret prisons—wherever).
  • Federal law also bans the CIA, the military and other agents from specific abusive “techniques” like waterboarding, forced nudity and other sexual abuse, hooding, mock executions and beatings. That’s thanks to a law championed by torture survivor John McCain and Dianne Feinstein.

Bottom line: Torture is not a policy options to debate on the merits, but an illegal practice.

Tell your senators you expect them to speak up – and demand Pompeo commit to upholding the law. Take action.

Human rights are non-negotiable under every president, including President-elect Trump. More than ever, it is important that all of us in this country seek to stand between the torturer and the tortured.

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