The National Religious Campaign Against Torture Speaks Out on Cheney’s Memoir

One of the disgraces that, in my opinion, will continue to stain the image and reputation of our nation for years to come, and which belies—betrays—the true character of our people, is the authorization and execution of torture during the Bush-Cheney administration.

What is even more troubling and pathetic is the continuing defense of, even praise for, those techniques by the head cheerleader of the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”: former Vice President Dick Cheney.

As mentioned in my “non-review” of Cheney’s upcoming memoir, Cheney, in a book promotion interview with NBC’s Jamie Gangel replies to questions on torture first with his famous “yes” and “no” answers interspersed with a two-word answer:

When asked whether we should still be using enhanced interrogation, Cheney answers “Yes.”

When Gangel asks, “No regrets?” Cheney has a very creative answer: “No regrets.”

When asked whether torture should still be a tool, Cheney opens up a little bit and answers “Yes.”

Finally, Cheney gets the chance to expound on his favorite subject: “I would strongly support using it again if circumstances arose where we had a high value detainee. That’s the only way to get them to talk.”

Thus in what is one of the more lengthy sentences in the interview, Cheney manages to admit that torture was used by the United States, that torture has merit and that torture ought to be continued.

As it turns out, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) spoke out today against former Vice President Dick Cheney’s continued defense of his authorization of torturous interrogation tactics in the aftermath of 9/11.

NRCAT, a national religious coalition of more than 300 groups representing various faiths, continues to oppose any kind of torture on moral grounds.

In a statement tilted “No Matter What Cheney Says, Torture is Never Acceptable ,” the NRCAT responds to both the interview and to the release of excerpts from Cheney’s book.

The following is the complete Response/Statement:

As excerpts from former Vice President Dick Cheney’s memoir – as well as his own commentary on the book – begin to be made public, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture is condemning Cheney’s reported ongoing defense of torturing detainees.

In a pre-taped NBC interview to air next week after the release of his book, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” Cheney is quoted as asserting he has “no regrets” about supporting the euphemistically named enhanced interrogation tactics, and even in retrospect, he would again authorize waterboarding, widely considered a violation of U.S. law today. “I would strongly support using it again if circumstances arose where we had a high-value detainee and that was the only way we could get him to talk, Cheney told NBC’s Jamie Gangel.

In response, Rev. Richard Killmer, Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, released the following statement:

“Mr. Cheney disgraced this country and continues to disgrace himself. He may have “no regrets,” but he is simply wrong on his view of the use of torture. Mr. Cheney refuses to learn the lesson learned by civilized countries around the world after WWII – that torture is always immoral and can never be justified under any circumstances. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture is saddened that the former vice president, who authorized various methods of torture including waterboarding, extremes of heat and cold, sleep deprivation, long-term isolation, sensory deprivation and stress positions, continues to defend his authorization of such torture.”

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture has long called for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate U.S.-sponsored torture and to recommend safeguards to end U.S.-sponsored torture forever. Killmer went on to say:

“The United States has a long way to go before we come to terms with the dark deeds done by U.S. officials, with direction from the Vice President, during the interrogation and detention of prisoners. We have a moral obligation to fully investigate the government’s past use of torture. Through his book, the Vice President may be helping us to do that. If there is one positive consequence to come out of the chronicling of such behavior, it is providing the American people with additional details on torture. Perhaps reliving the story of the horrors committed under the stamp of the Vice President’s office in the aftermath of 9/11 will compel serious investigation by the U.S. government.”

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is a growing membership organization committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Since its formation in January 2006, more than 300 religious organizations have joined NRCAT, including representatives from the Catholic, evangelical Christian, mainline Protestant, Unitarian Universalist, Quaker, Orthodox Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Baha’i, Buddhist, and Sikh communities. Members include national denominations and faith groups, regional organizations and local congregations.

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

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