Gen. Colin Powell issued a letter today sharply criticizing President Bush’s new legislation that would establish a system of military commissions to try suspected terrorists. See a copy of the letter HERE.
Bush’s proposal would “liberalize the definition of what is torture” by amending the War Crimes Act to “permit use of hypothermia, threats of violence to the detainee and his family, stress positions, ‘long-time standing,’ prolonged sleep deprivation, and possibly waterboarding.”
In his letter, Powell writes, “The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk.”
Read the full transcript:
Dear Senator McCain,
I just returned to town and learned about the debate taking place in Congress to redefine Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. I do not support such a step and believe it would be inconsistent with the McCain amendment on torture which I supported last year.
I have read the powerful and eloquent letter sent to you by one my [sic] distinguished predecessors as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Jack Vessey. I fully endorse in tone and tint his powerful argument. The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk.
I am as familiar with The Armed Forces Officer as is Jack Vessey. It was written after all the horrors of World War II and General George C. Marshall, then Secretary of Defense, used it to tell the world and to remind our soldiers of our moral obligations with respect to those in our custody.