Back in June of 2007, Dave Johnson, Executive Director of The Center for Victims of Torture began the work that ultimately helped lead to President Obama’s executive order banning torture. It’s an interesting story for activists everywhere on this issue, and can be found at MinnPost.com.
As the article states:
Many Americans know the arc of the events leading up to Obama’s order. But few know the behind-the-scenes work it took to build support that would help the new president end a practice which had bitterly divided the nation.
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With presidential elections coming up, the stage was set for Johnson and others at the dinner to thrust the issue into the political dialog. A proposed presidential order could be the vehicle.
“We had a good debate about the whole idea of an executive order,” Johnson said.
Johnson and his group were methodical. The idea was begun by Marc Grossman “who had been Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs during the first term of former President George W. Bush.” Clearly this group had contacts, and they used them. The intial group of 15 people worked hard and one of Johnson’s first actions was to go to Capitol Hill with Albert Mora, an anti-torture advocate and former general counsel of the US Navy.
Johnson called his Capitol Hill tour with Mora “one of the most frightening days of my life.”