Torture is a grave moral wrong. It is illegal, and it is at odds with American values and the rule of law. The same can be said of cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment. There is no evidence that such violations of American law, values, and morality are necessary to keep the United States safe. In fact, a number of experts have argued that torture often produces unreliable and inaccurate information, and many military experts contend that torture puts U.S. troops in danger if they are apprehended.
It has now been ten years since the Bush administration made the decision to authorize the use of what it called "enhanced interrogation techniques" on detainees in our conflict with Al Qaeda. The worst of those techniques, such as waterboarding, are undeniably torture in and of themselves. Together, the techniques used in this interrogation program amounted to a systematic effort to dehumanize and torment detainees. Worse still, the interrogation program was authorized at the highest levels of the government in part thanks to a series of weak, implausible, and distorted legal opinions produced by the Department of Justice.
The current administration has thankfully condemned the use of torture in the interrogation of detainees in our conflict with Al Qaeda and other terrorists. Although the Obama Administration has sought to turn the page entirely on this episode, the authorization of torture will remain an indelible stain on our nation's history, and I am convinced that these torture memos have undermined U.S. efforts to promote and protect human rights around the world. Current human rights violations in countries such as Syria and North Korea are reminders that the U.S. must lead by example and should focus our efforts on making sure these types of egregious violations never happen again.