Next Steps to Stop Torture

By Richard Killmer 2-02-2009

I'm grateful for President Obama's swift action to halt the use of torture by signing an executive order that requires the CIA to comply with the Army Field Manual, closes secret prisons, ends rendition for torture, and provides the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all U.S.-held detainees.

The religious community's work to secure an end to U.S.-sponsored torture is far from over. There is much to do. To ensure that our country never again tortures anyone, Congress must:

  • Understand our mistakes: Congress should fund and provide subpoena power to an independent, nonpartisan commission that is tasked solely with investigating our torture policies and practices since Sept. 11, 2001.
  • Give the "Golden Rule" the force of law: Congress should require the president to affirm that any interrogation technique that is authorized for use upon a detainee would also be legal if used upon a captured American.
  • ICRC Access: Congress should write the Red Cross provision of President Obama's Executive Order into law.
  • Prohibit rendition for both torture and secret prisons.

But it is good to pause, to savor this moment, and to give thanks.

This is particularly true since President Obama's position on torture is not without its opponents, and we have learned that they are planning to push back hard against the president's position on the issue. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture believes that it is very important that President Obama and the American people understand that people of faith appreciate what he did to halt torture.

Urge your congregation in February to give thanks that the president has halted torture. A bulletin insert with a prayer for congregational use can be found here.

We express gratitude to President Obama, key members of his administration who helped draft the executive order, and the diverse and influential groups who joined with us in this campaign

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