Pushing for a commission to investigate U.S. use of torture

June is Torture Awareness Month and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture is making sure the topic remains in the forefront.

The Rev. Richard Killmer, the campaign’s executive director, and the organization’s supporters are planning a witness during the noon hour June 11 at the White House. They will bring one primary message to President Barack Obama: Establish an independent commission to investigate the use of torture by U.S. interrogators on detainees held since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began.

While the anti-torture campaign has welcomed Obama’s executive order banning the use of torture and calling for the closing of the U.S. Army prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by January 2010, the organization maintains that the country must confront its past and the best way to do so is through a commission of inquiry. 

Representatives of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture believe that by looking at what the country has done in the past, America can move forward and take steps so that torture never again becomes a part of U.S. practice.

Eight heads of faith groups are expected to participate in the June 11 witness. People from as far away as California are expected to join them.

The religious leaders will hold a press conference a couple of hours before the event to explain why they feel a commission of inquiry is necessary.

The anti-torture campaign has been invited to send a delegation to meet with White House officials after the vigil. Representatives plan to deliver a letter to the president outlining the reasons for their call.

In case you’re wondering, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has not taken a stance on such a commission.

On the other hand the bishops have supported the president’s executive order and are working to enact the order into law, said Stephen Colecchi, director of the bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace.