More than 50 retired generals and admirals are calling on both Republicans and Democrats to “unequivocally” reject the use of torture on prisoners of war in their party platforms.
“We have diverse political affiliations and opinions, but we are in firm and unanimous agreement that the United States is strongest when it remains faithful to its core values,” the 58 military leaders wrote in letters to each party's platform committee.
“We are asking the platform committees of both major parties to send a clear message that the next President of the United States will uphold our obligations under international and domestic law, and reaffirm the United States’ long-standing and proper role as a world leader on human rights.”
The letters come as presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new social media network called 'TRUTH Social' Virginia State Police investigating death threat against McAuliffe Meadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report MORE renews his calls to bring back waterboarding.
After terrorists attacked the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul and killed at least 42 people, Trump called for fighting “fire with fire.”
“We can’t do waterboarding, but they can do chopping off heads, drowning people in steel cages; they can do whatever they want to do,” Trump said during a Tuesday night rally in St. Clairsville, Ohio. “You know, you have to fight fire with fire. I like it a lot. I don’t think it’s tough enough.”
The generals and admirals did not name Trump, but rejected the argument that torture would enhance national security.
“The use of torture has done immeasurable damage to our national security,” retired Army Lt. Gen. Charles Otstott said in a Human Rights First news release Thursday announcing the letter. “If we are really going to be tough on terrorism, we need to reject torture unequivocally. As someone who has dedicated his life to defending this nation, I know that torture makes Americans less safe.”
The letters highlight the fact that Congress last year solidified the ban on torture by passing a law that restricts interrogation techniques to those outlined in the Army Field Manual.
Waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” are also prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, the letters add.
“This is not, and should not be, a partisan issue,” the generals and admirals wrote.
Among the 58 signatories on the letter are retired Marine Gen. John Allen, former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command; retired Army Gen. David Maddox, former commander of U.S. Army Europe; retired Air Force Gen. Merrill McPeak, former chief of staff of the Air Force; retired Marine Gen. Charles Krulak, former commandant of the Marines; and retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis, former commander of U.S. European Command and NATO supreme allied commander.