Pelavin: “Today, President Obama and his Administration have taken one more crucial step towards ensuring that never again will our nation stoop to the levels of our enemies and use torture in an attempt to obtain information.”
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Washington, D.C., April 16, 2009 — In response to President Barack Obama’s decision to make public memos from the Department of Justice and the Office of Legal Council which the Central Intelligence Agency relied on in using severe interrogation techniques on suspects, including methods of torture, Mark Pelavin, Associate Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We welcome President Obama’s decision to release the government memos which authorize and describe in detail the interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on al Qaeda suspects. These techniques, including waterboarding, are considered torture by a wide majority of international laws. It is because of the justifications and loopholes provided by these memos that our nation, unbeknownst to its citizens, has been at odds with crucial international human rights and anti-torture laws.
It is our hope that the public release of these documents will create greater transparency and accountability in our government’s actions. Today, President Obama and his Administration have taken one more crucial step toward ensuring that never again will our nation stoop to the levels of our enemies and use torture in an attempt to obtain information.
As Jews, we are taught that all people, even the detainees in U.S. facilities, are created b’tselem Elohim, in the image of God, and as such must be treated with dignity and respect. It is in this spirit that the Reform Jewish Movement is committed to bringing an end to the use of torture both at home and abroad.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis.