Monday, September 18, 2006

TORTURE IS NOT AN AMERICAN VALUE

Torture is not an American value. It is inhumane and morally reprehensible. Always has been; always will be. So, how is it that the American President--elected predominantly by people sympathetic to so-called conservative Christian values--is arguing that the most basic Geneva Convention article (Common Article III) be relaxed and rewritten to justify the extreme manner in which American interrogators have been treating those they suspect of being enemy combatants or detainees?

WHAT WE HAVE COME TO. How is it that this American Presidential administration, in the name of preserving free and civilized society, is putting on a full-court press to Congress, the media, and American citizens to gain support for extreme interrogation methods and a program of secret detentions to gain information from anyone suspected of terrorism? Is this what we have come to?

COULD YOU SEE IT COMING? But this was to be expected. Couldn't we see it coming? Since 9/11, this Administration has not regarded terrorists as human beings. They have labeled them as less than human, unworthy of humane treatment or basic human rights. It is clear that this perception, fomented from the White House, has made significant impact on the U.S. military and has given rise to abuses at Abu Graihb and murder at Haditha, to name but two American atrocities.

LIKE OUR ENEMY. In secret prisons holding 14,000 detainees without legal recourse, this American President has consistently condoned and is now asking Congress to justify and legalize uncivil treatment and extreme interrogation practices as necessary to end terrorism. But does not extreme interrogation that terrorizes suspects not make Americans terrorists, also? Are we not becoming like the enemy that is considered monstrous? From the interrogators who bear down upon suspects to the average citizen who simply turns away in willful ignorance of these practices, we are becoming like the enemy. Silence is complicity.

WHAT RESTRAINS? What restrains an American interrogator? What is “out of bounds” in the effort wrangle a confession or information from a suspect? Apparently little. Suspected terrorists who have been held in American-led detention centers are coming out describing their experience as “hell.” The only thing that currently restrains American military and intelligence agency interrogators is fear of legal reprisals for their no-holds-barred tactics. And that is what the American President is now pressing to grant them--immunity for what they have done and permission to notch up their dark practices.

IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM. In the name of “freedom,” unremitting viciousness is being unleashed in secret places. This is not the America to which I have pledged allegiance. I call upon Congress and the Supreme Court to deny this American President the permission or license to continue such actions. Information needed to end terrorism and ensure security can be obtained humanely, legally, and in a manner that does not compromise what little moral high ground, ethical integrity, and international goodwill America has left.

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