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Leahy Denounces Trump's Consideration Of Torture, CIA 'Black Sites'

J. Scott Applewhite
Sen. Patrick Leahy, left, shown here with Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders, center and left, said President Trump should put a draft executive order on torture and black sites "in the trash."

Sen. Patrick Leahy strongly condemned President Donald Trump’s plan to reconsider the government’s ban on torture and on “black sites,” secret detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency for the purpose of detaining, interrogating and sometimes torturing terror suspects.

Trump reportedlyplans to use an executive order to have the government look into the ban as well as the government’s official definition of the word “torture.”

A draft of the order also directs the secretary of defense to “continue to use the detention and trial facilities at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base for the detention and trial by military commission of alien enemy combatants” captured in the country’s counter-terrorism efforts.

In a statement on Wednesday, Leahy essentially called the proposed policies garbage.

“President Trump should put this draft executive order in the trash where it belongs,” Leahy said. “No President should even consider reinstating the CIA’s so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by redefining torture, reopening the ‘black sites’ where the CIA secretly detained and tortured human beings in the name of fighting terrorism, or sending more people to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. These same practices stripped America of its standing in the world as a leader in promoting and protecting human rights.”

Leahy’s statement went on to subtly criticize Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway’s claimthat there exist “alternative facts” that differ from the facts reported by news media.

“Torture is wrong, illegal, and it doesn’t work,” Leahy said in the statement. “No set of alternative facts will change that. That is why a bipartisan majority of lawmakers voted to outlaw those practices, and why nominees to cabinet positions have rejected the use of torture during their confirmation hearings.”

James Mattis, the former Marine general who became secretary of defense on Jan. 20, has said publicly that he does not support torture, conducted by the U.S. under the guise of “enhanced interrogation.”

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
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