Pelavin: “We are hopeful that this preliminary investigation will prove to be an important step toward shedding new light on how these abuses came to be, creating greater transparency and accountability in our government’s actions, and preventing future acts of abuse.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C., August 25th, 2009– In response to yesterday’s announcement that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. plans to appoint a federal prosecutor to examine cases in which CIA interrogators may have violated anti-torture laws, Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center, issued the following statement:
We welcome the news that Attorney General Holder has appointed a federal prosecutor specifically to investigate cases in which CIA employees and contractors may have abused detainees, largely from Iraq and Afghanistan. We are hopeful that this preliminary investigation will prove to be an important step toward shedding new light on how these abuses came to be, creating greater transparency and accountability in our government’s actions, and preventing future acts of abuse.
There is no question that in the aftermath of 9/11, the security challenges faced by the U.S. were significant and continue to challenge our nation in unprecedented ways. Yet as we seek to thwart those who wish us harm, we must not abandon the values and ideals that have been the hallmarks of our nation’s greatness. In that spirit, the abuse of prisoners, including acts which could be construed as torture, is morally repugnant and wholly unacceptable.
We also note with concern the Administration’s refusal to rule out the practice of extraordinary rendition, whereby detainees in our custody are turned over to other nations for questioning. History has shown that the use of rendition results in the application of information-gathering techniques that are abhorrent and defile humanity. Though the Administration has assured the American public that these detainees will not be subjected to torture, relinquishing control to foreign nations vastly diminishes our government’s ability to ensure they receive proper treatment.
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.