The Obameter

End the use of torture


"From both a moral standpoint and a practical standpoint, torture is wrong. Barack Obama will end the use torture without exception. He also will eliminate the practice of extreme rendition, where we outsource our torture to other countries."


Sources:

"Barack Obama: The War We Need to Win"

Subjects: Foreign Policy, Human Rights, PolitiFact's Top Promises

Updates:

Wide agreement that Obama's torture ban has held

Updated: Monday, November 14th, 2011 | By Louis Jacobson

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to "end the use torture without exception.” Initially we gave him a rating of In the Works, but we are now ready to give him a Promise Kept. (We address the other part of this promise, on extraordinary rendition, in a separate item.)

As we indicated the last time we looked at this question, Obama acted two days after taking office -- Jan. 22, 2009 -- by issuing a detailed executive order on torture and related issues.

The executive order said that prisoners "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and shall not be subjected to violence to life and person (including murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture), nor to outrages upon personal dignity (including humiliating and degrading treatment)." It also specifically nullifies interpretations of federal law on interrogations "issued by the Department of Justice between September 11, 2001, and January 20, 2009" under President George W. Bush.

The executive order brings the CIA into line with U.S. Army Field Manual on Interrogation, said said Tom Malinowski, Washington director for Human Rights Watch. This limits interrogators to humane techniques, a standard that already applies as a matter of law to the U.S. military, he said.

In addition, Obama "created a High Value Interrogation Group to manage the debriefing of the most important suspected terrorist captives using humane, non-coercive techniques,” Malinowski said. "This doesn't mean that abuse never happens, but there is no policy of abuse any more, and there is strong leadership from the president on down to prevent it.”

Even the American Civil Liberties Union -- in a report that generally expressed skepticism about how much Obama had changed the Bush administration's policies on countering terrorism -- acknowledged that his actions on torture were strong.

Some of the Bush-era policies "have been stopped,” the report said. "Torture … (is) no longer officially condoned. … President Obama categorically disavowed torture when he came to office, and closed the secret CIA prisons where so much of the abuse took place.”

We rate this a Promise Kept.

Sources:

White House, executive order on ensuring lawful interrogations, signed Jan. 22, 2009, accessed Jan. 27, 2009

American Civil Liberties Union, "A Call to Courage: Reclaiming Our Liberties Ten Years After 9/11," September 2011

E-mail interview with Tom Malinowski, Washington director for Human Rights Watch, Nov. 4, 2011

Obama signs executive order on torture

Updated: Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 | By Angie Drobnic Holan

On Jan. 22, 2009, President Obama signed a detailed executive order on torture and extreme rendition.

The order said that prisoners "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and shall not be subjected to violence to life and person (including murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture), nor to outrages upon personal dignity (including humiliating and degrading treatment)." It also specifically nullifies interpretations of federal law on interrogations "issued by the Department of Justice between September 11, 2001, and January 20, 2009."

The order also creates a task force to study whether the procedures in the Army Field Manual are sufficient to protect the country and make recommendations on "additional or different guidance for other departments or agencies."

The task force will also study and evaluate the transfer of prisoners to other nations, a process known as "extreme rendition." The task force is given six months to finish its work, with a possibility of extension.

The order, worth reading in its entirety, also says the CIA shall not operate detention centers and should close "as expeditiously as possible" any centers it now operates. The International Committee of the Red Cross, an independent monitoring organization, should also be given timely access to prisoners, the order states.

Obama has taken the first step toward fulfilling this promise, but there are still details to be worked out. So for now, we're moving this one to In the Works.

Sources:

The White House Web site, executive order on ensuring lawful interrogations , signed Jan. 22, 2009, accessed Jan. 27, 2009

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