An interesting set of headliners — including former National Security Adviser to Ronald Reagan Robert “Bud” McFarlane, former NSA Director and Bush family pal Bobby Inman, and Committee on the Present Danger Co-Chairman R. James Woolsey — co-signed a statement strongly opposed to torture as a tool of detainee interrogations and in support of Senator John McCain‘s position, with whom I agree on this issue.
I do not know what, if anything, McCain has done with the statement — and have not seen it noted anywhere as of yet, but the statement is important both for its substance and its signatories — some of whom I am occasionally at odds with.
But I commend all of the signers for agreeing to affix their names to a statement solidly, unambiguously against torture.
Letter in Support of John McCain’s opposition to use of torture in any form, December 2007
Whether in war or peace, there is no place in civilized discourse among nations for torture. The reasons for this should be obvious to experienced leaders:
— For any nation to use torture invites equivalent treatment of its soldiers by all other nations;
— Torture seldom produces reliable information;
— The use of torture takes a nation from the moral high ground to the depths of inhuman depravity.
Moral authority is more than a metaphysical abstraction. It is fundamental to garnering respect among nations and any aspiration to lead them.
If a nation expects others to follow, allies must find it worthy of respect — especially in the humane treatment of prisoners and adherence to the laws of war including the Geneva Convention.
In the years ahead as we wage the global struggle against radical Islam we must have the moral authority to rally others.
We, the undersigned, declare our abhorrence of the use of torture and stand with Senator John McCain in his principled position on this issue.
Honorable Robert McFarlane, LtCol. USMC (ret); former National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan
Hon. R. James Woolsey, Former Director of Central Intelligence (DCI); Under Secretary of the Navy
Admiral Bobby Inman, Former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence; Director, National Security Agency
General P. X. Kelley, USMC (ret); Former Commandant of the Marine Corps
Honorable Orson Swindle III, LtCol USMC (ret); Former Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission; POW 6 years in Vietnam Prison
Honorable Everett Alvarez, Commander USN (ret); longest held POW in North Vietnam (8.5 years)
Rear Admiral Robert Shumaker, USN (ret); second longest held POW in North Vietnam (8.0 years)
Major General John Fugh, USA JAG (ret)
Brigadier General David Brahms, USMC JAG (ret)
I had a note from a friend at Sandia National Weapons Laboratories this morning who referred to my suggestion that the “Guantanamo Detainee” be made TIME‘s person of the year as a “dumbass idea”. He asked if I remembered the victims of 9/11.
Of course I remember the victims — but I also know that the suspension of habeas corpus for any one held by the state — no matter how monstrous — makes the rest of the nation’s citizens victims as well. I know that torturing detainees will harm for decades America’s place as the beacon on the hill.
I’m not empathetic with torture victims. I’ve never had that sort of experience. John McCain may be. I’m not sure.
My objection to torturing even the most evil of human beings behind 9/11 is that this practice will divide America within. It will divide America from its allies and motivate its enemies. It has already been ferociously divisive even within the White House itself.
Thus, I stand by my nomination of the Guantanamo Detainee — because how we determine the fate of those held there and what we do with that facility will signal to the world what kind of nation we decide to be.
— Steve Clemons