On January 27, a diverse coalition of human rights, civil liberties, and religious groups joined TCP to urge President Trump not to take any executive action that would facilitate torture or other abusive interrogation and detention practices.
“Torture is morally reprehensible,” the groups wrote. “It has long been absolutely prohibited under both domestic and international law, a prohibition that Congress strongly reinforced on an overwhelming, bipartisan basis just last year. There is no serious debate over this.”
The letter underscores widespread opposition to torture from the President’s nominees, cabinet members, and senior advisors, many of whom have openly rejected bringing back the CIA’s now-defunct “enhanced interrogation” program. It also explains the dangers of maintaining the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and the two pillars on which it rests: indefinite detention without charge or trial, and a military commissions system seemingly incapable of delivering either fairness to defendants or justice to victims.
Speaking at a news conference the same day, President Trump explained that he would defer to Defense Secretary Mattis—whose opposition to torture has been widely reported—on whether to resurrect a dark chapter in our history:
[Secretary Mattis] has stated publicly that he does not necessarily believe in torture or waterboarding, or however you want to define it. … I don’t necessarily agree. But I would tell you that he will override because I’m giving him that power. He’s an expert.
The letter is available here.