A Navy captain says there is widespread agreement in the military that 'torture is wrong' and that it is not a liberal viewpoint
- Capt. Scott B. Curtis told The New York Times most people in the military agree "torture is wrong."
- Curtis wrote a letter condemning the torture a Guantanamo Bay detainee went through.
- The letter, signed by seven senior military officials, called it a "stain" on the US' "moral fiber."
A Navy captain who served 30 years in the military said there is widespread agreement among service members that "torture is wrong."
"I think you'll find that your senior people fully understand that acts like torture do more long-term damage than good, if they do any good," Capt. Scott B. Curtis told The New York Times.
Curtis spoke with the Times' Carol Rosenberg last week, revealing himself as the author of a letter signed by a military jury that condemned the CIA's use of torture.
The two-page handwritten letter, sent to Pentagon officials after the jury delivered a mandatory sentence to a terrorist, asked for clemency for the man, calling the torture tactics used against him "a stain on the moral fiber of America."
The man, Majid Khan, 41, described to the jury the torture he experienced at CIA black sites, which were established around the world during the war on terror to hold enemy combatants and perform "enhanced interrogations." Like Khan, many who were interrogated were eventually sent to Guantanamo Bay.
Khan said he experienced force-feeding, waterboarding, and physical and sexual abuse. He said he was isolated while nude, chained up in the dark, and nearly drowned.
The letter compared the tactics to those used by "the most abusive regimes in modern history."
Curtis told The Times that the jury, made up of senior military officials, did not have sympathy for the man or his actions, but that the torture he described was a "mitigating factor." He said he wrote the letter in 20 minutes after the sentencing and offered to let the other jurors sign it, with seven of the eight doing so.
He also said that opposition to torture is not a "liberal" position, citing the late Sen. John McCain's view.
McCain, a Republican from Arizona and also a veteran, experienced torture himself during the years he spent as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. McCain was a vocal opponent of torture, arguing it produces faulty intelligence, endangers our own troops who end up captive, and is morally wrong, writing in 2011: "This is a moral debate. It is about who we are."
However Republican President Donald Trump expressed support for torture in 2017, claiming it "works," though his defense secretary, James Mattis, and CIA director, Mike Pompeo, both opposed reintroducing the enhanced interrogation methods.
Curtis told The Times he thinks the US "is still the good guys, for lack of a better term, throughout the world" but that "we certainly make mistakes." He also said the letter "wasn't condemning the present military and the present CIA."