Catholic social justice organizations, including Pax Christi USA petitioned President Barack Obama on May 6 to support the formation of an independent commission to investigate the use of torture by U.S. interrogators on suspected terrorists. The petition followed the release of declassified Justice Department memoranda that outline the legal justifications for the so-called enhanced interrogation of detainees in the years following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The memos set the stage for the use of techniques deemed by human rights activists to be torture, including waterboarding, which causes the sensation of drowning, and exposure to extreme temperatures, sleep deprivation and physical violence. While commending Mr. Obama for his executive order banning torture and his order to close the prison at Guantenamo Bay, Cuba, the signatories argued that a commission would help expose "these horrific practices” and allow the nation to move toward reconciliation and healing.
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