Secretary of State John Kerry condemned previous Central Intelligence Agency interrogation techniques as “torture” even as he asked Congress to grant the Obama administration authority that would allow it to increase the number of people it kills in its war against the Islamic Caliphate in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere.
The Department of State released a press statement from Kerry on December 9 in which he commented on the “Release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report” on CIA interrogations. Below is part of his statement, including condemning the CIA for interrogation techniques it previously used on terrorists.
“President Obama turned the page on these policies when he took office and during week one banned the use of torture and closed the detention and interrogation program. It was right to end these practices for a simple but powerful reason: they were at odds with our values. They are not who we are, and they’re not who or what we had to become, because the most powerful country on earth doesn’t have to choose between protecting our security and promoting our values.”
Kerry issued these remarks on the same day he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and urged it to grant President Obama authorization to use increased military force against the Islamic Caliphate.
Kerry didn’t just ask the Senate for continued operations in Iraq and Syria, but requested authorization to use force anywhere the Obama administration deems necessary according to the official transcript from the Department of State website. Kerry made these remarks while referring to the Islamic Caliphate as “ISIL” and the authorization as the “AUMF.”
“What do we envision, specifically regarding an AUMF? Importantly — and I think I will lay out today a very clear set of principles that I hope will be instructive — we do not think an AUMF should include a geographic limitation. We don’t anticipate conducting operations in countries other than Iraq or Syria; but to the extent that ISIL poses a threat to American interests and personnel in other countries, we would not want an AUMF to constrain our ability to use appropriate force against ISIL in those locations if necessary. In our view, it would be a mistake to advertise to ISIL that there are safe havens for them outside of Iraq or Syria.”
In the same testimony Kerry said that the Obama administration wanted authorization to use American ground forces as well.
“However, while we certainly believe that this is the soundest possible policy, and while the President has been clear he is open to clarifications on the use of U.S. combat troops to be outlined in an AUMF, it doesn’t mean we should preemptively bind the hands of the Commander-in-Chief or our commanders in the field in responding to scenarios and contingencies that are impossible to foresee.”
Kerry also said the U.S. had a “moral duty” to stop the Islamic Caliphate through killing its members and other means.
— StateDept Live (@StateDeptLive) December 9, 2014
The White House also appears to believe that the U.S. has a “moral duty” to kill terrorists, even as it condemns interrogating them with certain techniques.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended the Obama administration policy of killing terrorists through unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) strikes when a reporter asked him, “So what’s the difference between the harsh interrogation techniques and drones that kill civilians?”
[Image via screen capture of official State Department video of Sec. Kerry testifying before the Senate.]