Friday, May 31, 2013

"Torture Awareness Month": what you can do to end this evil practice

June is  "torture awareness month," according to the many human rights organizations: Why? According to Amnesty International:

The short answer is because it’s when a very important treaty against torture took effect and there are still people who flout it—people like Jose Rodriguez, the former CIA official who went on 60 Minutes recently to promote waterboarding and other forms of torture and ill-treatment.

Let’s start with the law. It’s called the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT for short) and it entered into force on June 26, 1987. That’s why June 26 is marked as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture—and why we’re calling on President Obama to apologize to torture survivor Maher Arar on that day.

A "fun fact," according to Amnesy, is that Ronald Reagan was a big supporter of this international law. So is Senator McCain and many others on both sides of the aisle. Yet the facts about US-sponsored remain shrouded in secrecy.

That's why Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP) and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is launching a campaign to gain the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the use of torture.

I plan to go to the office of Senator Feinstein with a delegation of Los Angeles religious leaders on Thursday calling for the release of this study. Please support our efforts through your prayers and by contacting Senator Feinstein, or your Senator, and explain why you think it's important for this report to be made public.

Earlier this month I posted an entry with the words of Jesus: "Everything that is hidden will be brought to light" (Luke 8:17). This certainly applies to evils such a torture. There is already ample evidence that the US engaged in torture, as is made clear in a bipartisan study conducted by the Constitution Project which can be obtained for free from NRCAT. It is time for the US government to acknowledge its guilt and make amends by holding the perpetrators accountable, by compensating victims, and  perhaps most importantly, by insuring that our governement never again engages in this wicked practice. 

Dear Senator Feinstein,

We want to commend you for conducting the Intelligence Committee investigation into the use of torture, and for your leadership in efforts to end torture. We are writing on behalf of Quakers who have taken a strong stand against torture, such as the “Quaker Initiative to End Torture” ( and Pacific Yearly Meeting, which issued a statement calling for an end to torture and to bring to justice those who have authorized torture in violation of international law (see below). Quaker organizations such as the American Friends Service Committee and the Friends Committee on National Legislation have taken part in national religious campaigns to end torture.

We urge the Senate Committee to release the results of its investigation to the public. Americans have a right to know the facts. Public officials who authorized torture need to be held accountable.

Our nation loses its moral credibility as a defender of human rights if it refuses to acknowledge its role in practicing torture. As the bipartisan study by the Constitution Project makes clear, the US “engaged in the practice of torture” and “the nation’s highest officials bear some responsibility for allowing and contribution to the spread of torture.”

There is no justification for torture—either legal, practical, or moral. We need to dispel the myth that torture provides critical information that helps keep Americans safe. Most experts agree that information gained through torture is unreliable. Furthermore, the use of torture incites hatred against Americans and is a recruiting tool for terrorists.

As people of faith, we affirm that torture is morally wrong and never justified. It is also a violation of international law.

Bringing the facts about US-sponsored torture to light could help ensure that it does not happen again, either abroad or in the United States, where inmates are being held in conditions of solitary confinement tantamount to torture.

As Pacific Yearly Meeting affirmed in a minute approved in 2011: “As Friends [Quakers], we stand firmly opposed to torture committed by anyone in any setting. We support the work of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture ( as well as of Quakers’ Initiative to End Torture ( We urge elected officials to bring to justice those who have authorized torture in violation of international law. We urge our governments to stop preventing the victims of torture from seeking redress and just compensation in our courts. We are also deeply concerned that cruel and inhumane punishment such as involuntary long-term solitary confinement are taking place in prisons in California and throughout the USA and the world. Finally, we support the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), which can help prevent torture and abuse by requiring a ratifying country to establish National Preventative Mechanisms (NPMs) to monitor the treatment of prisoners. In addition to the NPMs, OPCAT allows for international oversight of places of confinement to ensure that torture and other abuses are not occurring.”

Please continue your leadership against torture and vote to release the results of the Intelligence Committee investigation.











  1. Roberta LlewellynMay 31, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    Please, Senator Feinstein, advocate for ending torture as a method for gaining information and provide responsible intervention and research and use methods that work to end this hideous cycle by our government.

  2. It is truly reprehensible that any civilized state would condone and allow the use of torture. Thanks for your activism on this issue.