Advocates from the United Church of Christ joined the National Religious Campaign Against Torture on Friday, April 11, in celebrating the decision to publicly release the U.S. Senate’s findings about the CIA's use of torture. The Rev. Michael Neuroth, UCC policy advocate for international issues, feels that making public the findings of government-sanctioned use of torture during interrogation will lead to the eventual closing of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in Cuba.
"The UCC has a long history of affirming and protecting human rights. [We] believe that the details of the report, which still have yet to be fully released – and we hope will be done so in full – will show a clear violation of those rights in the form of torture," said Neuroth, who has called for the closure of the Guantanamo prison for the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries. "Torture anywhere, by anyone, is a violation of our basic belief that we are all made in God’s image and have intrinsic value as children of God."
The CIA’s torture program ended five year ago, but there has been no public information on the investigation into the use of torture until now. A bipartisan majority (11-3) of the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to release the previously classified findings and conclusions of its four year study. The Guantanamo prison opened in 2002 as a location to hold detainees accused of terrorism, but many have been kept there without trial indefinitely.
"As a nation, our own rights are threatened when we allow our government to threaten the rights of others," Neuroth said. "We deserve to know the truth about what was done on our behalf so that we can ensure it does not happen again. Never again."
The Rev. Ron Stief, executive director of NRCAT, an organization representing more than 300 faith communities across the country, underlined the need to make public the report’s findings. Stief is ordained in the UCC and was a former national staff member, directing the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries policy office in Washington, D.C., from 1999 to 2008. He began as NRCAT’s director on Jan. 1.
"It appears that the CIA deceived Department of Justice lawyers and the Bush Administration in order to obtain approval for the use of torture" Stief said. "This deception suggests that even those using it knew that torture was immoral and illegal. In the future, robust oversight and officials who do not give the CIA carte blanche must ensure that the agency does not again violate our values."
Learn more about the UCC’s work against torture.