U.S.-Sponsored Torture: A Call for a Commission of Inquiry 2009 Action of Immediate Witness

BECAUSE one of our core Principles as Unitarian Universalists is our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all persons; and

WHEREAS torture violates the basic dignity of the human person, degrades everyone involved—from policy-makers to perpetrators to victims—and contradicts our nation’s most cherished values; and

WHEREAS according to the Geneva Convention on torture and other international treaties to which the United States is a signatory, torture is illegal; and

WHEREAS torture is inherently wrong and immoral, because it is designed to break the human soul and the human body; and

WHEREAS reliable evidence available to the public has shown that the U.S. has engaged in torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in response to the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001; and

WHEREAS a report produced by the International Committee of the Red Cross and made known to the public in February 2009 concluded: “[T]he ill-treatment to which [detainees] were subjected while held in the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency of the United States] program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture”; and

WHEREAS the full story on the scope, breadth, and depth of U.S.-sponsored torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment has yet to be fully revealed; and

WHEREAS public awareness, acknowledgement, and understanding of what the U.S. has done with respect to the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment are necessary in order to make sure that our nation never again engages in this conduct,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association endorses the following statement of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture:

U.S.-sponsored Torture Now: A Call for a Commission of Inquiry

The United States must never again engage in torture. Torture is immoral, illegal, and counterproductive. It causes profound and lasting harm, especially to its victims but also to its perpetrators. It contradicts our nation’s deepest values and corrupts the moral fabric of our society.

We call for an impartial, nonpartisan, and independent Commission of Inquiry. Its purpose should be to gather all the facts and make recommendations. It should ascertain the extent to which our interrogation practices have constituted torture and "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.” Understanding the causes, nature and scope of U.S.-sponsored torture is essential for preventing it in the future and eliminating it from our system without loopholes. U.S. law will determine the extent of any criminal culpability.

As people of faith, we know that brokenness can be healed—both in individual lives and in the life of the nation. All religions believe that redemption is possible. Learning the truth can set us on a path toward national healing and renewal.

The United States must never again allow itself to be driven by blinding fears and bitter resentments in responding to national tragedy. The use of torture only serves to undermine our security in a dangerous world.

Nothing less than the soul of our nation is at stake in confronting U.S.-sponsored torture and completely renouncing its use. Let the U.S. reaffirm its values by establishing a Commission of Inquiry.