Yesterday evening, ThinkProgress spoke with Lieut. Gen, Harry Soyster and Ret. Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, at a Human Rights First reception honoring retired generals who have spoken out against President Bush’s torture policies. Soyster criticized Bush’s veto of a bill banning the CIA from waterboarding — a veto Sen. John McCain supported. Soyster said one clear standard on torture was needed:
SOYSTER: Our position is, all of us, that we need one standard for the United Sates. And because the Central Intelligence Agency has authorized torture, then Americans are torturing. It doesn’t matter where your paycheck comes from.
Taguba reiterated Soyster’s critique of Bush’s torture policies, and also slammed the Pentagon’s military analyst program, which the New York Times revealed in April. He said he found it “incredible” that generals would agree to be the Pentagon’s spokesmen, and said military “experts” should do their own research:
TAGUBA: You can probably provide an expert opinion, but you always have to preface that by saying, ‘Nobody told me to say these things.’
TP: What if someone did tell you to say those things? Then you shouldn’t be saying them?
TAGUBA: You shouldn’t be saying them. We should take bold measures to provide our own perspective through your own research. That’s why they call you an expert. They don’t call you an expert because they fed you information. That means you’re just a talking head. You don’t want to be a talking head. Do your own research.
In fact, the participants in the Pentagon program were explicitly prohibited from following Taguba’s urging: to say explicitly whether they were repeating someone else’s facts. As the Times report revealed, “The access came with a condition. Participants were instructed not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon.”