Rush Holt on Torture
Something that kind-of-sort-of-not-really-but-close-enough ties into Daphne’s post about Obama and Guantanamo: Rush Holt, the New Jersey Democratic congressman who’s become increasingly influential on intelligence and interrogation issues, has urged Obama to issue an executive order upon being sworn in banning torture across all government agencies (hint, hint, CIA). This is from a release Holt’s people just sent out:
“Torture tarnishes our nation’s values and damages our credibility,” Holt said. “I have worked for years to end our government’s use of torture. While an executive order will not remove the need for legislation on the issue, it is a way for President-elect Obama to put an immediate halt to our government’s use of torture during interrogations and to prevent secret detentions. By exercising his authority and acting quickly, he will begin to restore our moral leadership on the issue and repair some of the harm that has been done to our international reputation.”
Such an executive order would essentially nullify George W. Bush’s July 2007 executive order that left wiggle room for such torture techniques as waterboarding. Holt threw in some suggestions for what a prospective Obama executive order on torture should contain:
- Bar the use of interrogation techniques which we would not find acceptable if used against Americans.
- Create one national standard for the interrogation and treatment of prisoners for all personnel affiliated with all U.S. forces and agencies.
- Require that we acknowledge all detainees to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and allow the ICRC access to them.
- Require that we allow all detainees to have the opportunity to defend themselves in court.
- Bar transport of people to other countries where there is an expectation of torture.
- Provide for transparency in our confinement and interrogation procedures, including the videotaping of all interactions between prisoners and American personnel.
- Make clear that any U.S. official who authorizes, implements, or fails to prevent the use of torture will be held accountable.
That’s pretty comprehensive. No secret prisons, no torture, no extraordinary rendition, no outsourcing torture to Egypt or Jordan or Thailand or wherever, no loopholes for CIA, no denial of habeas corpus. (See, Daphne, I found a way to get back to your post!) Now to see if Obama agrees.