Brennan Vote Underscores Need to Release Drone Memos and Torture Report

Press Release
March 5, 2013

Brennan Vote Underscores Need to Release Drone Memos and Torture Report

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579, @AIUSAmedia

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Zeke Johnson, director of Amnesty International USA's Security with Human Rights Campaign, issued the following statement in advance of the U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee's vote on John Brennan for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director:

"'Trust us' is not good enough when it comes to killing and torture, especially when the Obama administration's nominee to head the CIA, John Brennan, cannot bring himself to unequivocally call waterboarding 'torture.'

"President Obama must do more to prove that his administration is serious about human rights. He should publicly support declassification of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on torture. In addition, he should also direct the U.S. Justice Department to release the secret memos reportedly detailing the legal rationale for the administration's use of lethal force.

"Congress needs to step up its oversight to help prevent extrajudicial executions and torture. The Senate Intelligence and other committees must hold the Obama administration, including the CIA, accountable to the 'rule book' for the use of lethal force that already exists: international human rights law and, when it applies, international humanitarian law. To that end, more public hearings on drones are needed, with survivors of drone strikes, independent experts on international human rights and humanitarian law and administration officials.

"Also, Amnesty International urges the Senate Intelligence committee to do everything in its power to ensure the declassification and public release of its own report on torture by the CIA, with as few redactions as possible.

"Everyone should all be able to agree that no person should be tortured or wrongfully killed. The fact that the United States is even having this debate underscores how far the country has strayed from the human rights standards it once helped set up."

For further information, please see Amnesty International’s two most recent reports on targeted killings.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.