President Obama to bring back Bush era torture?
Progressives who worked to elect President Obama have been disappointed on many fronts. But the White House may be on the verge of one its most dramatic — and shameful — about faces. Reinstating a Bush-era loophole allowing the use of torture.
On President Obama’s second day in office he banned torture in the interrogation of terror suspects by executive order, ending a shameful legacy of the George W. Bush administration which embraced waterboarding and other forms of torture in secret CIA prisons and black sites around the world.
Now, with just two years left in his second term in office, key members of President Obama’s “legal team” are debating an about face on torture.1 The New York Times reports that administration officials may be poised to affirm a Bush era legal interpretation that allows the U.S. to engage in torture as long as it does not occur on American soil.
Next month, the U.S. must report to the United Nations committee that monitors compliance with the international Convention Against Torture.2 State Department officials want the administration to explicitly refute the Bush administration position reserving the legal right to torture prisoners held on foreign soil.
Pentagon and CIA officials, however, fear that making such a statement could expose Bush administration officials who participated in torture to prosecution. And they want to maintain a loophole in the Obama administration’s current anti-torture policies that would open the door for American officials to engage in torture outside our country’s borders, including at foreign black sites.
As a former constitutional law professor, President Obama should understand with the utmost clarity the importance of drawing a bright line when it comes to torture. There can be no legal loophole that allows his administration or future administrations to engage in torture in America’s name.
Making a clear statement at the Geneva meeting on the global Convention Against Torture would make it clear to Americans and to the world that the U.S. does not condone torture, and that it will hold government officials accountable for committing torture in violation of national and international law. Click the link below to sign our petition:
Thank you for speaking out.
Becky Bond CREDO Action from Working Assets
- "Obama Could Reaffirm a Bush-Era Reading of a Treaty on Torture," Charlie Savage, The New York Times, October 18, 2014.
- "Close the Overseas Torture Loophole," New York Times Editorial Board, The New York Times, October 20, 2014.