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Obama legal team meets with anti-torture generals

•  National News     updated  2008/12/03 15:12


A dozen retired generals met with President-elect Barack Obama's top legal advisers Wednesday, pressing their case to overturn seven years of Bush administration policies on detention, interrogation and rendition in the war on terror.

"President-elect Obama has said that Americans do not engage in torture, that we must send a message to the world that America is a nation of laws, and that we as a nation should stand against torture. He believes that banning torture will actually save American lives and help restore America's moral stature in the world," said an official close to the transition who asked not to be named to discuss internal matters. "This meeting is timely and very helpful to advancing this work."

Among those who met with Eric Holder, Obama's pick to be attorney general, and Greg Craig, tapped to be White House counsel, were Gen. Charles Krulak, a former Marine Corps commandant, and retired Marine Gen. Joseph Hoar, former chief of the Central Command.

Hoar called the meeting "productive."

"It's important that the dialogue is going," Hoar said. "Part of the challenge here is big and philosophical. Part is nuts and bolts. How do you translate the rhetoric of the campaign and the transition period into action?"

The generals would like to see authority rescinded for the CIA to use harsh interrogation methods that go beyond those approved for use by the military, an end to the secret transfer of prisoners to other governments that have a history of torture, and the closing of the U.S. jail at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

President George W. Bush vetoed legislation championed by the retired officers that would have held the CIA to the military's interrogation methods in March.

Obama has criticized the use of torture in interrogating detainees and promised to close Guantanamo Bay's military prison. The transition team official said no decisions about the detainee policies will be made until after the inauguration and Obama's full national security and legal teams are in place.




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