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Mercer Christian Ethics Professor Named to Task Force on Detainee Treatment

January 5, 2011

Mercer Contact: Mark Vanderhoek, (478) 301-4037 or
Constitution Project Contact: Dallas Jamison, (202) 580‐6922, cell (720) 333-1494 or

WASHINGTON – Mercer Distinguished University Professor Dr. David Gushee has been named to the Constitution Project’s bipartisan Task Force on Detainee Treatment. The goal of the Task Force is to investigate and report on the past and current treatment of detainees by the U.S. government, as part of the counterterrorism policies of the Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations.

Dr. Gushee is the Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer and director of the University’s Center for Theology and Public Life. The author of 12 books, he has worked extensively in the area of detainee treatment and abuse, advocating against detainee abuse from the vantage point of Christian ethics. He is the only Christian ethicist on the panel, which includes attorneys, law professors and physicians, as well as former ambassadors and generals.

“This is a sobering assignment that I am willing to take on because I think it is essential for the country to reflect on what we have done to insure its security and to make sure that we have a path for ensuring our security in the future that does not violate our highest principles,” Dr. Gushee said. “I’m doing this not only as an American who loves this country and wants it to be the best it can be, but also as a Christian. I hope to add a Christian ethical perspective to these proceedings.”

The Task Force will help policymakers and the public confront alleged past abuses—including torture and cruel treatment—by following the facts. As an ideologically diverse, objective, third party the Task Force is uniquely positioned to make sense of the vast quantity of information in the public domain. It will review this information, determine where the holes are and then pass the baton to the administration, Congress and ultimately—to the American people—who will determine what steps should be taken next.

The Task Force will be led by three chairs: Asa Hutchinson, the former undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security during the George W. Bush administration; Eleanor J. Hill, former staff director for the Joint Congressional Inquiry on the Sept. 11 attacks and inspector general of the Department of Defense under President Bill Clinton; and James R. Jones, a former member of Congress from Oklahoma who served as ambassador to Mexico under Clinton.

The Constitution Project will oversee this initiative under the leadership of President Virginia Sloan and with the support of its staff. It is in the process of hiring a team dedicated solely to the work of the Task Force and expects the research and investigation phases of the project to begin this month. It is estimated that the Task Force will release its final report in 12‐18 months. During this time, Dr. Gushee said, he will forego any advocacy or publications on detainee treatment.

“It’s humbling to be a part of such an esteemed group of individuals,” Dr. Gushee said. “I’m sure I will learn a lot from this experience that I can bring to my teaching and my writing in future years, especially within the Center for Theology and Public Life, which seeks to examine the issues of the day from a theological perspective.”

About the Constitution Project
Established in 1997, The Constitution Project is known for its ability to bring together unlikely allies—experts and practitioners from across the political spectrum—in order to promote and safeguard America’s founding charter. TCP is working to reform the nation’s broken criminal justice system and to strengthen the rule of law by undertaking scholarship, advocacy, policy reform, and public education initiatives. TCP was born out of the belief that we must cast aside the labels that divide us, in order to keep our Constitution and our democracy strong.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,200 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
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