Frederick C. Neidhardt


After two years of intense research and investigation, the Constitution Project's high-level, bipartisan Task Force on Detainee Treatment released its 500-page report on America's use of torture throughout the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.

The report is the first comprehensive look available to the public at our government's illegal use of torture throughout the end of the 20th century and post-9/11 era. The 11-member task force was led by two former congressmen - Asa Hutchinson, a Republican member of Congress from Arkansas who served in the Bush administration in the Department of Homeland Security, and Ambassador James Jones, a Democrat who represented Oklahoma and was also an ambassador to Mexico in the Clinton administration.

The task force included a retired three-star general in the U.S. Army, a former director of the FBI, and a five-decade career diplomat - it was a diverse and high-level panel.

This report brings to the American people the first comprehensive look at the illegal and gruesome acts of torture perpetrated over the past decade by our government in violation of U.S. law and international treaties. Gore and horror are one aspect of the report, but learning how we got to that horror is the major gift of the task force's report.

From the report, we now learn how our top political leaders violated the law and fractured our uniquely American principles and morals. They used handpicked lawyers from the Justice Department to twist the law. They engaged government physicians and psychiatrists to legitimize these horrifying acts.

Learning these facts is incredibly saddening. Yet at the same time, a report of this sort provides a beacon in the dark. Despite the task force's thoroughness, however, it is but a first step. First, we Arizonans should heed the words of Sen. John McCain, who from the depth of his personal experiences has denounced those who defend torture.

We can also turn to our religious leaders for guidance. The more than 300 diverse, faith-based organizations that are members of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture have been calling through an interfaith effort to urge the Senate Intelligence Committee to release its own comprehensive report on torture.

The committee adopted its torture report in December, but it remains classified. Let's follow in McCain's footsteps and make our voices heard about our opposition to torture - and the need for Americans to know the truth. America needs an authoritative map showing where we have been this past decade, where we are now, and how we can change course to achieve redemption.

For more details

Read the report online at

Find more information about the National Religious Campaign Against Torture at

Frederick C. Neidhardt of Tucson is a professor emeritus of the University of Michigan Medical School. He is a member of the Arizona Senior Academy, an affiliate of the University of Arizona.