More than 190 faith leaders from across North Carolina have sent a letter to Senator Richard Burr, asking his support for release of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on the use of torture after 9/11.
Among the signatories are 18 bishops and other denominational executives, including Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Bishop William DeVeaux of the Second Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Signers include leaders from Muslim, Jewish, and Christian traditions.
“We are writing to you as fellow people of faith,” the letter begins. It goes on to cite deteriorated U.S. credibility on human rights as a reason for diminished U.S. influence in the Muslim world.
The letter also states: “As a strong supporter of the U.S. Armed Forces and its veterans, you can do nothing more valuable in restoring the world’s respect for our service members, and in making the world a safer place for them, than to help make public the SSCI report on detainee treatment.”
The SSCI, which oversees U.S. intelligence activities, approved its report on post-9/11 detainee treatment in December 2012, but has not yet made public the contents. Senator Burr is one of 15 Senators on the Committee.
An independent organization, the Constitution Project, created a bipartisan Task Force on Detainee Treatment that included former members of both Republican and Democratic administrations, retired generals, a retired FBI director, and a prominent Christian ethicist. In April 2013, the Task Force issued a 600-page report, unanimously concluding that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture,” and that “the nation’s highest officials bear some responsibility for allowing and contributing to the spread of torture.”
North Carolina has played a particular role in the practices discussed in the Task Force report due to its involvement in “extraordinary rendition,” or the secret, extra-judicial transfer of detainees to overseas prisons and black sites where they were reportedly tortured during interrogations. The report states: “…the United States has violated its international legal obligations in its practice of the enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention of terror suspects in secret prisons abroad.”
“As important as that report is, though, it cannot replace the U.S. government’s obligation to be transparent about its past,” the North Carolina faith leaders wrote to Sen. Burr. “Our nation needs to learn from the 6,000-page SSCI report.”
Council Executive Director George Reed said: “We hope that Senator Burr will feel supported by people of faith in North Carolina in making this important report available so we can learn more about what has been done in our names.”
–Aleta Payne, Development and Communications