Join the call for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate U.S. torture policies and practices.
A critical moment in the effort to stop the use of torture by the United States appears to have arrived.
On April 16, 2009, the Department of Justice released memos that had been prepared by Office of Legal Council attorneys Jay Bybee and Steven Bradbury as they assessed the CIA's "harsh interrogation techniques" between 2002 and 2005.
President Obama has indicated the possibility that he will support both a Congressional Investigation and has left the door open to pursue prosecution of those who wrote the memos which attempted to give legal cover for torture. There are also indications that the President will make this decision in the near future.
Writing for No2Torture, a grassroots Presbyterian organization dedicated to stopping torture, the Rev. Carol Wickersham notes "Now is the time to redouble our prayers and our pressure. Please let the White House and Congress know that this is what we want: an investigation and accountability. We must make it clear that we want both: truth and justice. In order to achieve this, any investigation must be nonpartisan and authoritative, investigating all who were involved in drafting the memos and giving the orders up the chain of command. This is what the Presbyterian Church has been asking for since the 2006 General Assembly."
The 217th General Assembly (2006) [PDF] of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) called for "an investigative body with the independence, stature, and broad investigative powers of
the September 11th Commission to inquire into whether any official or officer of the United
States government bears direct or command responsibility for having ordered or
participated in violations of law in the mistreatment of persons detained by the
government of the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib Prison, or elsewhere or
in transporting persons into detention in nations with known records of brutality and
The assembly also called for "the appointment of a special counsel with full authority to investigate and prosecute any official or officer of the United States government who bears direct or command responsibility for having ordered or participated in violations of law in the mistreatment of persons detained by the government of the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib Prison, or elsewhere, or in transporting persons into detention in nations that have known records of brutality and torture.
As Carol Wickersham notes, "We have worked long and hard and significant strides have been made. Now two very important steps are potentially in sight, but we need to let those in power know that this is the will of the people."
John Shuck reflects on our need to make our voices heard on this issue.