Retired Air Force Col. Morris "Moe" Davis, once the lead government prosecutor for terrorism suspects at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, says that the US torture regime under Bush and now the drone assassination program run by the Obama administration have combined to make the world less safe and called both programs—whether they could be legally justified or not—"immoral."
"We are not the shining city on the hill," Davis told the small crowd gathered at Johnston Community College in North Carolina on Thursday night. "If we're the country we claim to be, we've got to get back to the values we claim to represent. Regardless of whether it's illegal, it's immoral."
"War is hell. But the rule of law makes it a little less hellish," Davis added.
The talk was part of a series given by Davis this week in which he lectured at several North Carolina colleges with the message that the United States' use of torture, secret detention and extraordinary rendition imperils the reputation of the country while also putting its own soldiers at increased risk of mistreatment in the future.
Not only have the practices harmed us abroad, Davis argues, but more than a decade of war has left a generation of Americans vulnerable to the idea that such policies are moral and correct.
As the local Fayetteville Observer reports:
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Morris lamented that the majority of Americans accept torture. He attributes the statistics to young adults who have grown up in a post-9/11 world.
He argued that torture does not elicit information that can be used in the court of law and said the practice has damaged the nation's image.
The group that sponsored the evening's lecture, North Carolina Stop Torture Now, noted that Col. Davis' appearances come on the heels of reports by the Washington Post and European human rights advocates that the Obama administration continues to secretly detain suspected terrorists captured abroad.
Comparing Bush's torture regime to Obama's escalated use of drones to carry out attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere Davis said it was "six of one and half a dozen of another."
Davis retired from active duty in 2008 and subsequently took a job at the Library of Congress. He was fired from that position, however, after writing this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal which took a mild, but critical, stance against the Obama administration's approach to the ongoing Military Commission trials at Guantanamo Bay.