Stopping torture: new video from NRCAT

National Faith Leaders Join Outcry Over American Use of Forced Medical Experimentation,
Call for a Commission of Inquiry

Press Release from National Religious Campaign Against Torture

WASHINGTON – National faith leaders are adding their voices to the outcry over the new report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) that finds that doctors under the Bush Administration conducted illegal and unethical human experimentation on detainees in CIA custody. A video released today by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) the religious leaders implore Americans to demand that Congress establish a Commission of Inquiry to uncover all the facts behind the growing body of evidence that the U.S. violated U.S. law when it engaged in torture and to recommend safeguards that are needed to make sure that torture never happens again.

A copy of the video Accounting for Torture: Being Faithful to our Values can be accessed at

"This groundbreaking report from Physicians for Human Rights reveals deeply disturbing evidence that our government committed, in our names, forced human experimentation that recalls some of humanity's darkest days-charges from which no person of faith can afford to turn away," says Rev Richard Killmer, NRCAT's executive director.

"In accepting the basic tenet of faith that all human life is created in God's image and is thus inherently holy, we must also accept our primary obligation to speak out wherever, whenever and by whomever any life is debased or defiled-be it that of a friend, a loved one or a stranger in our land or in our custody," adds Killmer. "The cost of silence is one we know too well from history that we just cannot bear. Nothing less than the soul of our nation is at stake." 

In Accounting for Torture: Being Faithful to our Values, which features PHR lead medical author Scott Allen, Allen describes the PHR findings that physicians, working for the CIA, engaged in human experimentation in violation of international standards in the development of the CIA interrogation program. He states that "Not only did the US engage in torture, the CIA, with the help of doctors, experimented with various forms of torture on detainees." Forced human experimentation is a violation of numerous US laws and international conventions, including the Nuremberg Code, adopted in response to Nazi atrocities.

Allen is joined in the video by:
•    Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary, National Council of Churches
•    Rabbi Gerald Serrota, Executive Director, Clergy Beyond Borders
•    Rev. Peg Chemberlin, Executive Director, Minnesota Council of Churches
•    Rev. Richard Cizik, President, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
•    Jim Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church

The video highlights the story of Alyssa Petersen, a devout Mormon who became one of the first female American casualties in the Iraq war when she took own life just days after refusing to participate in interrogation "techniques" being used on naked detainees. The official probe of her death stated: "She did not know how to be two people; she… could not be one person in the cage and another outside the wire."

Petersen's story exemplifies the essential conflict America itself now faces. "As Alyssa Petersen couldn't be two people, we can't be two nations. We can't be a nation of laws that respects human dignity and a nation that sanctions torture," says Jim Winkler of the United Methodist Church in the video.

"We don't know how many individuals died as a result of the torture techniques used by the military and the CIA since 2001…It is against all our principles of law and morality to allow such acts to go without accountability-with impunity. That may be the way things work in dictatorships; it is not the way they should work in the United States of America," adds Rev. Richard Cizik.

The video calls on Americans to demand that their elected leadership establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate and account for the use of torture under the Bush Administration, as a critical first step in ensuring as a nation that "we never let torture happen again." The video will be used as a tool to mobilize faith communities across the country through congregational outreach and extensive use of social media and marketing.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has addressed stopping torture and called for an investigation into the use of torture by the U.S.

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