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Nobel Laureates Ask President To Declassify Torture Report

Nobel laureates lend their voices to those calling for President Obama to release a high-profile government report on torture during the Bush years.
Posted at 2:20 PM, Oct 27, 2014

Calls for President Obama to release a high-profile report on torture during the Bush administration got a big boost from a group of Nobel laureates Sunday night. (Video via The White House)

Twelve Nobel Peace Prize winners penned the letter, published on TheCommunity.com, which says admitting the U.S. government tortured prisoners would be the first step toward making amends. 

"In recent decades, by accepting the flagrant use of torture and other violations of international law in the name of combating terrorism, American leaders have eroded the very freedoms and rights that generations of their young gave their lives to defend."

The letter was coordinated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and José Ramos-Horta and is just the latest voice calling for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence summary report to be declassified. (Video via BSR | BBC)

As The New York Times details, the most contentious issue is how much of the report to declassify, with members of the Intelligence Committee pushing to release all of it, and CIA officials pushing back. 

The Times reports the president himself agrees the Bush administration was wrong to torture prisoners, but it's unclear how much sway the laureates will have on his opinion anyway. One notable past overture didn't do much.

The president met with Malala Yousafzai last year — granted, before she was named a Nobel Prize winner — and she asked him to stop drone strikes in the Middle East in favor of education.

A year later, and the administration still relies heavily on unmanned aerial vehicles both for reconnaissance and attack missions. (Video via U.S. Central Command)

In an interview after winning the peace prize, Yousafzai was realistic about her influence with the president. 

RONAN FARROW, MSNBC: "What did President Obama say to that message?" 

MALALA YOUSAFZAI: "Uh, I think answers are usually political, but the response was quite positive."

The last remaining sticking point of the report's release is the use of fake names to protect the agents and countries named in the reports. A representative of committee chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein told the Daily Beast, "Pseudonyms are already used for CIA officers and foreign countries in the report but those pseudonyms were redacted and in some cases the committee feels they shouldn’t have been."

In addition to the report's release, the letter also called for proof the U.S. has dismantled the so-called "black sites" it used to torture detainees abroad and the closing of Guantanamo Bay. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images.