Nobel Peace Laureates call on Obama for torture transparency

Story highlights

  • Twelve Nobel Peace Prize laureates wrote the White House on Monday
  • The letter called for administration disclosure on torture.
  • South Africa's Archbishop Bishop Desmond Tutu was one of the letter's signers
The White House confirmed Monday that it has received a letter from 12 Nobel Peace Laureates calling on the U.S. to disclose torture methods allegedly used by American forces following the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S.
Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council Spokesperson, told CNN "The President believes that the former rendition, detention, and interrogation program was inconsistent with our values as a nation and that public scrutiny, debate, and transparency will help to inform the public's understanding of the program to ensure that such a program will never be used again."
The letter, signed by Nobel Laureates including South Africa's Archbishop Bishop Desmond Tutu, and John Hume who helped secure peace in Northern Ireland, calls on the administration to fully disclose, "the extent and use of torture and rendition by American soldiers, operatives, and contractors, as well as the authorization of torture and rendition by American officials."
The letter also calls for, "Full verification of the closure and dismantling of 'black sites' abroad." The group also asks for a clear plan from the administration to close the detention center at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The Laureates are also asking for the administration to push for the release of a Senate Intelligence report "that will allow the world to see ... the extent to which their government and its representatives authorized, ordered and inflicted torture on their fellow human beings."
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The letter notes that the Laureates have reason to feel strongly about torture, saying, "Many of us among the Nobel Peace Prize laureates have seen firsthand the effects of the use of torture in our own countries. Some are torture survivors ourselves. Many have also been involved in the process of recovery, of helping to walk our countries and our regions out of the shadows of their own periods of conflict and abuse."
"It is with this experience that we stand firmly with those Americans who are asking the US to bring its use of torture into the light of day, and for the United States to take the necessary steps to emerge from this dark period of its history, never to return." The letter continues.
"Torture continues to haunt the waking hours of its victims long after the conflict has passed, so it will continue to haunt its perpetrators."
Meehan points out that one of President Barack Obama's first acts in office was to sign an executive order which brought an end to the program, which was started under the Bush administration.
"As directed in that Executive Order, individuals detained in any armed conflict shall in all circumstances and in accordance with our international legal obligations be treated humanely, and shall not be subjected to violence to life and person, nor to outrages upon personal dignity, whenever such individuals are in the custody or effective control of the United States," Meehan said.
Meehan tells CNN that the administration has made clear that it believes the Senate Intelligence report on the former rendition and interrogation program should be declassified, but with "appropriate redactions necessary to protect national security."
Meehan also points out that the White House rarely responds to public inquiries about correspondence the President receives.