Home About Us NRCAT Press Releases Religious Leaders Condemn Defense of Torture

Religious Leaders Condemn Defense of Torture

For Immediate Release:
Thursday, November 4, 2010

Contact:           Rev. Richard Killmer, NRCAT, (202) 547-1920, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
                        Alanna Sobel, NRCAT, (202) 265-3000, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Bush Said “Damn Right” to Torture. 
Religious Leaders Condemn Decision, Call for Full Inquiry

WASHINGTON – National religious leaders are condemning former President George W. Bush’s reported prideful defense of torturing detainees in his new memoir, Decision Points, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) announced today.

In the memoir to be released next week, the former president claims that he said “damn right” when the CIA asked for permission to torture Khalid Sheikh Mohammed by waterboarding him.  He also admitted to authorizing waterboarding for other "senior al Qaeda leaders."

“Former President Bush should be ashamed of his decision to torture detainees,” said Rev. Richard L. Killmer, Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. “His decision to allow the use of torture was both illegal and immoral.  And his excuse that the use of  waterboarding ‘saved lives’ is wholly inadequate and unjustifiable.  U.S.-sponsored torture has cost innumerable lives of both American soldiers and civilians, because it has inspired extremists to commit acts of terror against us.  It has cost us dearly.  Torture does not make us safer; it makes us more of a target.”

In 1999 the United States government submitted its statement on the use of torture to the United Nations as part of its duty under the Convention Against Torture.  Here's what the United States government said at that time:

"Torture is prohibited by law throughout the United States.  It is categorically denounced as a matter of policy and as a tool of state authority.  Every act constituting torture under the Convention constitutes a criminal offence under the law of the United States.  No official of the Government, federal, state or local, civilian or military, is authorized to commit or to instruct anyone else to commit torture.  Nor may any official condone or tolerate torture in any form.  No exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture.  United States law contains no provision permitting otherwise prohibited acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be employed on grounds of exigent circumstances (for example, during a ’state of public emergency’) or on orders from a superior officer or public authority, and the protective mechanisms of an independent judiciary are not subject to suspension.  The United States is committed to the full and effective implementation of its obligations under the Convention throughout its territory."

"Former President Bush has admitted to ordering the use of torture.  In doing so he has violated U.S. law and international law.  We must establish a Commission of Inquiry that fully investigates all aspects of the use of torture by the United States to ensure that U.S.-sponsored torture never happens again,” said Rev. Killmer. 


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 290 religious groups 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.



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