CVT Urges Panetta to Condemn Torture and Cruel Treatment

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Center for Victims of Torture Urges Panetta to Condemn Torture and Cruel Treatment

St. Paul, MN – The Center for Victims of Torture today sent a letter to Secretary of Defense nominee Leon E. Panetta urging him to condemn torture and cruel treatment of prisoners by the U.S. during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Armed Services scheduled to begin on Thursday, June 9.


Director Leon E. Panetta
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, D.C. 20505

7 June 2011

Dear Director Panetta,

I am writing from the Center for Victims of Torture, an international non-profit organization that offers treatment and rehabilitation services to torture survivors in the U.S. and abroad. The Center for Victims of Torture has extended care to more than 20,000 victims of torture at our healing sites in Minnesota, Africa and the Middle East. Our experience has given us a unique perspective on the long-term devastation that torture inflicts on individuals and communities.

As you know, the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden has reinvigorated the national debate about torture. Misinformation and alarmist rhetoric have dominated media coverage of the debate, leaving Americans to wonder whether their government still stands for fundamental human rights and dignity. Senator John McCain’s statement on the Senate floor went a long way to quiet those who call for the use of torture and cruelty by our government, and the subsequent publication of your letter to him has given the anti-torture effort clear, unwavering credibility.

However, the American people still have questions and are waiting for an explicit confirmation of our government’s refusal to compromise its integrity and morality on the use of torture.

Your nomination hearing this Thursday for the office of Secretary of Defense is the ideal opportunity to address this concern in a public, definitive way. CVT urges you to include in your remarks before the Senate Armed Services Committee a clear condemnation of the use of torture and cruel treatment of prisoners by the U.S. and a commitment to uphold human rights in all Defense Department and U.S. intelligence community activities. We urge you to emphasize that torture undermines our intelligence and national security efforts, damages our international credibility and relationships, and puts our own troops in grave danger of parallel treatment.

Thank you for your time and for your consideration of this request. Your leadership in denouncing torture as Secretary of Defense would be invaluable to efforts to reinstate the U.S. as a global moral authority on human rights and dignity.

Best regards,

Douglas A. Johnson
Executive Director, Center for Victims of Torture


CVT is a nonprofit based in St. Paul with an office in Washington D.C. and projects in Africa and the Middle East. Visit


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