02.03.17

Leahy Joins Other Key Senate Leaders In Writing To The New Defense Secretary And CIA Director, Opposing Return To ‘Ineffective, Immoral Policies’ On Torture And Detention

. . . According to news reports, the Trump Administration is considering an Executive Order that would review a return to torture, re-open CIA black sites, and direct DoD to continue using the prison at Guantanamo Bay

Senator Patrick Leahy, Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the Ranking Members of the Senate Intelligence, Armed Services, Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees Friday sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo expressing alarm at reports that the Administration is reportedly considering an Executive Order that would revoke the bans on CIA “black site” detention facilities and interrogation techniques outside of the U.S. Army Field Manual.

“We are deeply concerned by reports that the Administration is considering an Executive Order to review resuming CIA ‘black site’ detention and prohibited interrogation activities (potentially including, among other practices, waterboarding), making changes to the Army Field Manual on Interrogation, as well as sending additional detainees to the detention facility at Guantanamo. Those reports, as well as comments by the President, have created alarm that this administration may be preparing a return to policies and practices that are ineffective, contrary to our national values, and damaging to our national security,” wrote Leahy and the other senators.

The letter, initiated by Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, was also signed by Leahy; Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee; Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee; and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.,), Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee.

In 2009, Leahy spoke in support of President Obama’s executive orders ending the use of torture and working toward closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and has led in the Senate on these issues.

According to press reports, a draft of the Trump Executive Order also asserts it is in “the interests of the United States” to maintain the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Leahy has long worked to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, a goal that the senators’ letter reaffirms, noting that “both the Bush and Obama administrations worked to close the detention center at Guantanamo because they realized that both the moral and financial costs were not justified and that there were better and more humane alternatives.”

The letter continues:  “We cannot go back to those practices if we want the United States of America to continue to serve as a beacon of justice, law and human rights for the world. We appreciate your firm commitments in the confirmation process to follow the law.  We remain firmly opposed to changing the law or any policy that could bring back these abhorrent and ineffective practices.”

The full text of the letter follows. A PDF of the letter is available here

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