Hillary Clinton on Tuesday denounced the use of torture against suspected terrorists, the first time the former secretary of state has spoken out about the issue since the release of a controversial Senate Intelligence Committee report detailing the Central Intelligence Agency’s brutal interrogation methods. Clinton, who is considered the likely front-runner for the Democratic presidential ticket in 2016, made the comments during a ceremony in New York, where she accepted the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award for social change.
Clinton said the use of torture by the U.S. was unacceptable and should have never happened. "That should be absolutely clear as a matter of both policy and law, including our international treaty obligations, and if that requires new legislation, then Congress should work with [U.S. President Barack Obama] to quickly enact it and it shouldn't be an issue of partisan politics," Clinton said.
“America is at our best when our actions match our values,” she continued. "Yes, the threat of terrorism is real and urgent, scores of children were just murdered in Pakistan, beheadings in the Middle East, a siege in Sydney. These tragedies not only break hearts but should steel our resolve and underscore that our values are what set us apart from our adversaries.”
Last week’s report on the use of so-called enhanced interrogation tactics in the CIA confirmed what many in the U.S. and abroad already suspected was taking place. The report revealed, among other things, that the intelligence agency routinely used tactics like waterboarding, sleep deprivation and “rectal feeding” to try and draw information from suspected terrorists. The Senate concluded that the CIA’s techniques did not result in any valuable intelligence leads; however, CIA officials have maintained that their efforts saved American lives.
Clinton has not said yet whether she will run for president, but it is widely believed she will. Recent polling shows Clinton may be the likeliest shot Democrats have of retaining the White House in 2016. Fifty percent of American voters said they could back Clinton if she were to run for president, according to the results of a joint survey from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. The survey found that 48 percent of voters oppose her. Among Democrats, however, Clinton’s lead was significant, with 82 percent of Democratic voters saying they could support Clinton if she were to run.
Another poll from Bloomberg Politics showed that voters preferred Clinton over five other potential 2016 candidates. Of the seven likely candidates for 2016, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, Clinton was the most popular.