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Why 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners are calling Obama out

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Courtesy of Pete Souza/The White House

(Read caption) President Barack Obama looks at the Nobel Peace Prize medal at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009.

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Twelve Nobel Peace Prize winners are looking for answers from President Barack Obama about US torture.

Specifically, they want their fellow laureate winner to make public a Senate report on the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation tactics since Sept. 11, 2001 that some say amount to torture.

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In a letter and petition to the president Sunday, they said the "open admission by the President of the United States that the country engaged in torture is a first step in the US coming to terms with a grim chapter in its history."

Recommended:CIA's harsh interrogation techniques: three key memos now online

They want Obama release the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence summary report as an opportunity for the country and world to see "the extent to which their government and its representatives authorized, ordered and inflicted torture on their fellow human beings."

They pointed out the group has reason to feel strongly about torture – some of them have survived torture, many have helped their nations through recovery.

"It is with this experience that we stand firmly with those Americans who are asking the US to bring its use of torture into the light of day, and for the United States to take the necessary steps to emerge from this dark period of its history, never to return," they wrote.

The group outlined steps for the United States "to recover the standards on which the country was founded, and to once again adhere to the international conventions it helped to bring into being." In addition to full disclosure about the extent and use of torture, these included the closure and dismantling of 'black sites' used for torture and interrogation, the closing of Guantanamo prison, and the upholding of international law with respect to conflict, especially the Geneva Convention and the UN Convention against Torture.

The release of the report remains in limbo as the CIA, the Obama administration, and Congress debate how much of it should be redacted.

Meanwhile, Obama's legal team is considering reaffirming the Bush administration's position on the United Nations Convention Against Torture – that cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment does not apply to CIA and military prisons overseas, anonymous officials told The New York Times earlier this month.

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And the Obama administration must decide quickly. The letter from the Nobel laureates comes less than a month before the administration is set to send a delegation to present to the Committee Against Torture, a UN panel that monitors compliance with the treaty.

Obama was awarded the Peace Prize in 2009 "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."


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