By Kristina Wong - 08/04/14 07:49 PM EDT
A group of retired military generals and flag officers is calling on the White House to support an "expansive declassification" of a Senate report on CIA interrogations expected to be released as early as this week.
"There is no substitute for leadership from the top on an issue like this. You have to set the direction for your administration that torture is unacceptable," the retired officers said in an Aug. 1 letter to President Obama.
They also warned the president in their letter against attempts by former and current CIA officials to argue that the program was necessary to disrupt terrorist plots and save lives.
The rising pressure could put the president in an awkward position between supporting human rights groups and his CIA director, John Brennan, who told The Wall Street Journal he plans to "take issue with some other elements of the report that I believe are inaccurate or misleading."
The report has already created a schism between Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA, and could provide fodder for Republican critics who say the report's findings are biased and that its release could jeopardize national security secrets.
The CIA has finished reviewing the report but has made heavy redactions, according to Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).
The retired officers reminded the president of his support to declassify the study.
"On your second day in office, you led the country forward by issuing executive orders banning torture and other forms of abusive interrogation. Many of us were in the Oval Office that day, proud to stand behind you as you signaled an end to the misguided policies of the post-9/11 period," the letter said.
"We welcomed your public support for declassification of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s study on the CIA’s rendition, detention, and interrogation program. We believe that the American people must understand fully what the program entailed, how it came to be, and what was gained—and lost— because of it," they wrote.