(KCPW News) In a rally scheduled in Salt Lake City today, demonstrators will call for an independent commission on torture. Linda Gustitus, president of the Washington D.C.-based National Religious Campaign Against Torture, will speak at the event. She says even though former Vice President Dick Cheney claims extreme interrogation methods, such as waterboarding, are effective and have saved American lives, torture is wrong whether it produces results or not.
"There are three acts, which no country can do under international law and humanitarian standards, regardless of the circumstances. And those three are slavery, genocide and torture," Gustitis says. "So there are no exceptions for when you can use torture. You can never use torture. It is so dehumanizing that civilized nations have forbidden it under all circumstances."
Gustitus says a torture commission could investigate whether the U.S. committed war crimes in the period of high alert following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and hold leaders accountable for their actions.
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture is an organization of more than 250 religious groups that advocates against torture. Gustitis says the group believes torture is a moral issue, not a political issue. She adds participating in the rally today is a spiritual act for the group's members.
"It is definitely, from our perspective, a spiritual issue because all religions have the same message, which is that all humans have inherent worth and dignity," Gustitis says. "And torture is anathema to that standard."
The Salt Lake City rally begins at 5 p.m. at Washington Square, and is being hosted by High Road for Human Rights. Rallies will also take place in other cities, including Washington D.C., Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland.