Retired Generals Press Obama to End Torture

A group of retired US Generals and Admirals, led by former CENTCOM commander General Joseph Hoar, met with Vice President-elect Joe Biden and other senior members of the incoming administration’s transition team today, presenting a laundry list of changes they’d like to see.

Rear Admiral John Hutson likened the proposed changes to the treatment of detainees to the golden rule, saying policy should flow from the question “what would we want the enemy to inflict on us or not inflict on us?” Adm. Hutson warned the Bush Administration’s deviations from the Geneva Conventions undermine the nation’s ability to insist on proper treatment of captured US soldiers.

The generals organized through a group called Human Rights First shortly after the 2004 Abu Ghraib scandal, and have called for a single, unified standard based on the Army Field Manual, which requires humane treatment for all detainees and forbids harsh interrogation techniques used by the CIA.

As many of the most serious issues stem from presidential orders,  General Fred Haynes said he believes President-elect Obama could make tremendous moves toward genuine reform with “a couple of sentences in his inaugural address.” Obama publicly denounced torture during the campaign, but exactly where reversing the policies of the last eight years falls on his list of priorities is so far unclear.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.