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Now is the Time to Stop Torture

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Chris Lugo
Now is the Time to Stop Torture

Recent news reports reveal that the CIA continues to use brutal forms of physical and psychological interrogation techniques, tactics that rise to the level of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. All US personnel need clear standards for the interrogation and detention of prisoners.

Last December, the House passed a version of the Intelligence Authorization Act with an amendment that would prohibit all US personnel, including the CIA, from using interrogation techniques not authorized by the Army Field Manual on Interrogation. The bill is now in the Senate but the amendment was blocked in a procedural move and must have 60 votes to pass. Congress requires all Department of Defense personnel to uphold the field manual standards, but not the CIA, causing confusion and dangerous gaps in national policy.

At a recent Senate hearing, Attorney General Michael Mukasey would not call waterboarding torture or rule out its use in the future. Clearly, when the U.S. Attorney General is unable or unwilling to declare waterboarding torture, it's time for Congressional action. It is time to support the amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act to establish one national standard for all U.S. personnel for the interrogation and treatment of prisoners.

In a letter released on December 12th to the US Senate Intelligence Committee, thirty six high ranking retired military personnel called on the government to stop the use of torture by US armed forces, "We believe it is vital to the safety of our men and women in uniform that the United States not sanction the use of interrogation methods it would find unacceptable if inflicted by the enemy against captured Americans. That principle, embedded in the Army Field Manual, has guided generations of American military personnel in combat."

"The current situation, in which the military operates under one set of interrogation rules that are public and the CIA operates under a separate, secret set of rules, is unwise and impractical. In order to ensure adherence across the government to the requirements of the Geneva Conventions and to maintain the integrity of the humane treatment standards on which our own troops rely, we believe that all U.S. personnel – military and civilian – should be held to a single standard of humane treatment reflected in the Army Field Manual."

This week Senate the will vote on important anti-torture legislation. The Intelligence Authorization Act of 2008 includes an amendment that requires the CIA to follow minimum standards of humane treatment as set forth in the U.S. Army Field Manual on Interrogation. The manual explicitly prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

It is time for our elected representatives to support the amendment in the Intelligence Authorization Act to hold the CIA to the standards in the Army Field Manual on Interrogation. All U.S. personnel need clear, detailed guidance on the interrogation and detention of prisoners. Torture and cruel treatment are not effective interrogation tools and will not make our nation safer. America should not engage in forms of interrogation that we would find unacceptable if used on our own troops. By using torture and cruelty, we make the world more dangerous for our troops and citizens when they travel abroad. Torture is un-American and violates deeply cherished American values of human dignity, fairness and the rule of law.

Chris Lugo for US Senate
9 Music Sq So #164
Nashville, TN 37203
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I was the Green Party candidate for US Senate from Tennessee in 2008 and 2006. I ran for office primarily as a peace activist to work to end the war in Iraq. I am currently involved in activist projects based out of Tennessee.
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