Lee H. Hamilton
& Thomas H. Kean

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The use of torture is contrary to American values and does not serve our national interests.

As a means of extracting information, torture is unreliable. It produces too much false information. The FBI has long dealt with our country's most odious criminals without resorting to torture. According to the Army Field Manual on interrogation, coercive methods are less effective than other techniques in obtaining important information from people in custody.

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The use of torture is an escalation of violence against our adversaries, planting the seeds of further violence and endangering U.S. soldiers if they are captured. If we do not want our citizens to face torture elsewhere, we should not torture the prisoners we hold in our custody.

The use of torture undermines and casts doubt on lawful interrogation techniques.

It alienates the world from U.S. policies, obstructs international cooperation in the fight against terrorism, and impedes the achievement of our foreign policy objectives—such as the promotion of democracy—that depend on the moral standing of the United States.

The use of torture undermines our commitment to universal human rights. It undermines the rule of law, the Geneva Conventions, and the Conventions Against Torture, which the United States has joined. Each time we hear of a U.S. citizen employing torture, we must ask ourselves: Is this who we are? Is this how we want to be known to the world? We think not.

The secrecy with which the current administration has addressed the topic of interrogation techniques—condemning torture publicly, but refusing to identify the coercive tactics now in use—is an inappropriate way for the leaders of this great nation to present issues demanding momentous decisions. The American public should have the opportunity to engage in serious dialogue and debate, and our country surely will emerge stronger and more united for it.

It should be clear in the minds of Americans what is acceptable to do—and not do—to those whom we hold as prisoners.

Is there a middle ground? No. Accepting or justifying torture will lead us down a slippery slope into a moral abyss.

We have an obligation to future generations of Americans to protect U.S. national interests—and that includes upholding the values upon which our great nation was founded.

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Lee H. Hamilton and Thomas H. Kean are the former vice chair and chair of the 9/11 Commission.  
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