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Ronald Reagan on Torture

Andrew Sullivan dug up Ronald Reagan’s message to the Senate when he submited  the Convention Against Torture in 1988 for advice and consent. Reagan wrote:

The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention . It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called ‘universal jurisdiction.’ Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution

So what would Ronald Reagan do today? What will Obama do?

(HT: Neal Sonnett)

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One Comment

  • Simon says:

    it’s a great question. What’s amazing is how far America to the right America has moved from a moral perspective. But while the practices condoned by the Bush adminstration were abhorrent, I believe that US policy, especially in PK and AFG would have been better served in this case by “moving on” and not making the memos public. Their release has opened a pandora’s box which might well end up with some very counter-productive consequences. Among them, providing Islamic militants with an opportunity to score more propaganda victories against the US, at a very critical time in our battle with them, and opening up the possibility of inadequate and inconsistent response by the United States if there are no prosecutions. Finally, the revelations in the memos may create painful divisions among the American people, many of whom will be dubious or downright opposed to prosecutions of Americans for harsh interrogations of those involved in the 9/11 attacks.

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Welcome! Who am I?



Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.