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UUA, UUSC leaders call for torture inquiry

Letter to President Obama calls for ‘accountability’ for U.S. officials who authorized torture.
By Sonja L. Cohen
5.4.09

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The presidents of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee have urged U.S. President Barack Obama to support an independent inquiry into the use of torture by the United States during the Bush administration. UUA President William G. Sinkford and UU Service Committee President and CEO Charlie Clements issued a joint letter to President Barack Obama April 29 calling for an investigation into the extent of American-sanctioned torture to ensure that “those responsible for authorizing the use of cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees be held accountable for their actions.”

“We have watched and read with horror, shame, and anger the new reports about atrocities committed by our country’s representatives in the name of national security,” Sinkford and Clements wrote. “The accounts underscore the urgent need for action. We hope you will fully support ending all forms of U.S.-sponsored torture and help restore America's tarnished image.”

The April release of several internal memos documenting the Bush administration’s government-sponsored torture prompted Clements and Sinkford to issue the letter.

“The use of torture is antithetical to our nation’s cherished ideals,” they wrote. “The mere suspicion that our government engaged in this practice has done incalculable damage to our nation’s standing. With the release of these memoranda, that suspicion has hardened into certainty.”

The UUA’s General Assembly called for an end to U.S.-sponsored torture in 2005 and passed an Action of Immediate Witness to that effect in 2007. The UUA has a history of defending civil liberties and produced a Statement of Conscience in 2004 opposing many policies that were being promoted as part of the “war on terrorism.”

The UUSC, an independent human rights organization affiliated with the UUA, has been a leader in the fight against the use of torture. The UUSC and UUA have collaborated for several years on the UUSC’s STOP (Stop Torture Permanently) Campaign, which calls for an end to U.S.–sponsored torture.

Sinkford and Clements are also founding members of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.


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