Nobel Laureates to Obama: Open Up on CIA Torture

Desmond Tutu, José Ramos-Horta lead charge for transparency
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2014 7:52 AM CDT
Nobel Laureates to Obama: Open Up on CIA Torture
In this Nov. 27, 2011, file photo, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks during a climate justice rally held in Durban, South Africa.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam, File)

Twelve Nobel Peace Prize winners have penned a letter to President Obama that asks their fellow laureate to open up a "grim chapter" in US history: the use of torture. The open letter on—chaired by former East Timor President José Ramos-Horta—appeals to the president to "bring its use of torture into the light of day, and for the United States to take the necessary steps to emerge from this dark period of its history, never to return." The co-authors of the letter, organized by Ramos-Horta and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have a specific starting point they'd like to tackle first: the release of a Senate report about the CIA's use of torture after Sept. 11, the New York Times reports.

One of the sticking points in making the report public is that the CIA wants the pseudonyms of officers "blacked out" to prevent identifying and endangering them. The laureates also call on Obama to adhere to international mandates regarding torture—such as the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture—and to nix a "Bush-era interpretation" that the treaty doesn't ban torture on foreign soil. Tutu tells the Times that he finds it "disturbing" and "foul" that the administration would even think of permitting "ghastly things" abroad that are considered crimes here in the US. "It remains to be seen whether the United States ... will take the necessary steps to recover the standards on which the country was founded," the laureates' letter reads. (Recent winner Malala Yousafzai has her own advice for the president.)

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