Saying the United States “must never again engage in torture,” a group of religious leaders is supporting a call for a “Commission of Inquiry” to investigate U.S.-sponsored torture under the Bush administration.
“Torture is immoral, illegal, and counterproductive. It causes profound and lasting harm, especially to its victims but also to its perpetrators. It contradicts our nation’s deepest values and corrupts the moral fabric of our society,” said the statement from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, which was signed by 23 religious leaders.
Signers included Rev. John Thomas, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ; Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America; Rev. David Gushee, president of Evangelicals for Human Rights; and Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
While President Obama told Congress last month that “I can stand here . . . and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture,” a proposal by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., for a “Truth Commission” has largely stalled on Capitol Hill.
The religious leaders, however, said Americans “have been kept in the dark about this nation’s involvement in torture for long enough” and a nonpartisan panel with subpoena power would help “heal the nation’s soul.”
“This is not a time to hide from our past,” the leaders said. “We must investigate and report on the torture policies and practices of the past and then develop safeguards to assure that torture never happens again.”