Former Generals to Discuss U.S. Policy on Interrogation, Torture

October 14, 2008

Several retired military leaders will discuss U.S. interrogation policy and the treatment of military prisoners at a forum on Thursday, Oct. 23 at 11:45 a.m. in Caplin Pavilion.

GeneralsThe event is co-sponsored by the Law School's Human Rights Program, the Center for National Security Law, Virginia Law Veterans, the J.B. Moore Society of International Law, and the Virginia Journal of International Law, in cooperation with Human Rights First.

"Human Rights First has been working with these retired military leaders who are committed to ensuring that the next commander-in-chief understands the fundamental importance of prisoner treatment issues to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and to our national security," said Professor Deena Hurwitz, director of the Law School's Human Rights Program.

Lt. Gen. Harry E. Soyster, Brig. Gen. John H. Johns and Brig. Gen. Richard O'Meara will discuss the importance of using interrogation methods that are effective, lawful and humane. They will underscore the need to ensure that interrogation and prisoner treatment policies enhance U.S. national security, protect U.S. troops and are consistent with American laws, values and interests. The program will also cover the use and legality of waterboarding and other so-called "enhanced" interrogation techniques.

The forum participants are part of a larger group of retired generals and admirals who are working to ensure that U.S. policy reflects a single standard of prisoner treatment consistent with the Geneva Conventions. The group members have traveled to New Hampshire and Iowa, where they met individually with eight presidential candidates from both parties, and are traveling to key states in the presidential campaign.

They also recently participated in events at both the Democratic and Republican national conventions, urging leaders of both parties to reject policies of torture and official cruelty.

Public parking is unavailable at the Law School, but the school is easily accessible through the UVA bus service.

Lt. Gen. Harry E. Soyster (Ret.)
Lt. Gen. Harry E. Soyster served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency during DESERT SHIELD/STORM. He also served as deputy assistant chief of staff for intelligence in the Department of the Army, commanding general for the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command and in the Joint Reconnaissance Center of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In Vietnam he was an operations officer in a field artillery battalion. Upon retirement he was vice president for international operations with Military Professional Resources Inc. and returned to government as special assistant to the SEC ARMY for WWII 60th Anniversary Commemorations completed in 2006.

Brig. Gen. John H. Johns (Ret.)
Brig. Gen. John H. Johns, Ph.D., served in Vietnam and was a key member of a group that developed the Army's counterinsurgency doctrine in the early 1960s at Ft. Bragg and later in the Pentagon. After retirement from active duty, he served as a deputy assistant secretary of defense and then as a professor at the National Defense University for 14 years, where he specialized in national security strategy.

Brig. Gen. Richard O'Meara (Ret.)
Brig. Gen. Richard O'Meara is a combat-decorated veteran who fought in Vietnam before earning his law degree and joining the Army's Judge Advocate General Corps. He retired from the Army Reserves in 2002 and now teaches courses on human rights and history at Kean University and at Monmouth University.

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