• Press Release

Brennan “Orwellian” on Torture; Wrong on Drones

February 7, 2013

Congress must release torture report and hold public hearings on drone killing

Contact: Sharon Singh, [email protected], 202-675-8579, @spksingh

(Washington, DC) In response to John Brennan's testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today, Frank Jannuzi, head of Amnesty International’s Washington DC office, issued the following statement:


"John Brennan's refusal to unequivocally call waterboarding torture is Orwellian, and his hollow claim that drone strike policy complies with the law is wrong. If the last decade has taught us anything, it's that unchecked presidential power, coupled with efforts to twist and reinterpret international law to justify virtually any actions on the part of the government, leads to human rights violations. Congress must do far more to ensure that the United States never tortures and never kills outside of the law.

“The flawed theory at the heart of the U.S. government’s policies with regard to both torture and extrajudicial killings is the so-called ‘global war' paradigm that posits the world is a battlefield where human rights law does not apply.

“Mr. Brennan's failure to firmly condemn waterboarding as torture is backsliding on an issue of utmost importance to the United States. We have a right to know the truth. Release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture is needed to ensure that no one is ever tortured again.

"Despite clarifying that he's not a lawyer in order to dodge questions, Mr. Brennan reiterated his claim that U.S. drone strikes are in compliance with the law. But he has again completely ignored human rights law, reinforcing concerns that people are being killed outside the bounds of international law.

"Congress must immediately hold public hearings with independent experts to help ensure that no person is unlawfully killed and that the administration is following the ‘rule book’ for the use of lethal force that already exists: human rights law and, in the narrow circumstances in which it applies, the law of armed conflict."

For more information, please see:

Report: "The Devil in the (Still Undisclosed) Detail: Department of Justice 'white paper' on use of lethal force against U.S. citizens made public" https://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/the_devil_in_the_still_undisclosed_detail.pdf


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.