Hillary Clinton: Ban torture through U.S. law

Hillary Clinton accepted a human rights award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights on Tuesday.

Story highlights

  • Clinton says Congress should pass legislation to make U.S. ban on torture clear
  • She also picked up on the cry that "black lives matter" in nationwide protests
  • Clinton's speech emphasized the need to put American values first
Hillary Clinton on Tuesday weaved together the national outcry over a recent report detailing U.S. torture abroad and the nationwide protests against recent police killings of unarmed black men.
The former secretary of state said the U.S. should reaffirm a ban on torture in "both policy and law" and suggested that Congress pass legislation to make the U.S. opposition to torture absolutely clear after a scathing Senate committee report recounting years of torture of terror suspects at the hands of the CIA.
"Today we can say again, in a loud and clear voice, the United States should never condone or practice torture anywhere in the world, not under any future administration or in any future conflict," said Clinton, who is expected to launch a 2016 presidential bid. "If that requires new legislation, then Congress should work with President Obama to quickly enact it, and it should not be an issue of partisan politics."
Accepting a human rights award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, Clinton homed in on the importance of putting American values first when it comes to the criminal justice system and in the fight against terrorism.
"It is possible to keep us safe from terrorism and reduce crime and violence without relying on torture abroad or unnecessary force or excessive incarceration at home," she said. "There's no doubt that at home and abroad, America is at our best when our actions match our values."
Clinton invoked the protesters who have mobilized in major U.S. cities to protest the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York, both black men who were unarmed when they were killed by white police officers.
"We can stand up together and say, 'Yes, black lives matter,' " she said, referring to the rallying cry of demonstrators around the country.
Clinton called attention to inequalities in the U.S. between minority groups and whites, noting the "cruel reality" that African-American and Hispanic men are much more likely to be searched by police officers, jailed and shot by police officers than white men.
She said the country can work to restore trust in the criminal justice system and a balance between rights and security by remembering the police officers who do their jobs right.
"We know that there are so many police officers every day inspiring trust and confidence rather than fear and frustration, honorably doing their duty, putting their lives on the line to save lives, not take them," she said.
Clinton also drew on Kennedy, the one-time presidential candidate, former U.S. attorney general and civil rights champion, saying that he would call attention to the gap between American ideals and the reality throughout American history.
It's time to "narrow the gap between our ideals and our reality," she said.