Friday, April 17, 2009

Torture: A Crime that Requires a Verdict

Borrowed from sojourners:

Torture: A Crime that Requires a Verdict

by Jimmy McCarty 04-17-2009

Dear President Obama,
Thank you for making the four memos approving of and describing the torture done to children of God in our name public even though many pleaded for you not to. Thank you for letting me know that my tax dollars were used to torture those carrying God’s image. I have known we made helpless people think they were drowning for a while now, but now I know we kept some awake for almost two weeks straight. Now I know we put collars around the necks of defenseless people and slammed their heads into walls. And now I know we put people in boxes so small they couldn’t move and put insects in those boxes the prisoners thought could seriously injure them with no way of escape.

We cannot know what we need to repent of without knowing what sins we have committed. Thank you for letting me know. Now I pray that we as a nation ask for God’s forgiveness for what we, because of our fear and complacency, allowed to happen in our name and work to ensure it never happens again.

Thank you also for vowing that we will never do this again. As a Christian I know God declares these actions completely sinful. There is no theological or ethical justification for torturing another human being. In doing so we demonstrated that we place our faith not in God, or some abstract notion of justice or liberty, but in violence and power. These foundations will not sustain us. Those who live by the sword die by it, and I am now afraid that we have lived by torture so long that we will also die by torture. We must never torture again, and we must work to make amends for the sins we have already committed.

I am not in complete agreement with what you have said, however. You have said no one will be held accountable for the acts of torture because they were approved by the justice department. While I understand the premise of your reasoning, I think it is wrong.

Perhaps those interrogators who physically administered the acts of torture were following orders, but those who gave them were not. They made a decision to pervert justice. Those in the know have not apologized for their conduct or admitted it was wrong; in fact they have vehemently defended it. What they did was illegal according to multiple international treaties and laws. We have prosecuted people from other nations for doing the exact same things we did. We cannot sweep this under the rug. While it may be deemed unnecessary, or impractical, to prosecute all involved from the top down, someone must be held responsible. Those officials that perverted our previously agreed upon notions of justice must be held responsible.

There must be an independent commission of inquiry into the actions of the Bush administration. Everyone, from former President Bush and former Vice-president Dick Cheney down to the justice department, who made the decisions to approve of torture must be brought before the American public and be held responsible. It is the only way the rest of the world will believe we have discarded these evil methods and know we are no longer a nation that tortures. Not to do so is to be complicit in the cover-up of the ways we have sinned and the perpetuation of that reputation of us throughout the world.

It is a sad day in American history. May God have mercy on us.


TRUTH 101 said...

Nobody of good conscience can be happy about this but alas. As the old saying goes: sh!t happens.

James Wolfer said...

Yeah, but we shouldn't let it lull us into complacency. That's how empires fall and tyranny rises.

Anonymous said...

Mr. President, thank you for tuning my beloved country into a third world nation

James Wolfer said...

Yes, thank you Mr. Bush.

Dave Miller said...

Right, how exactly has our President done that?

The Red Head said...

Are you kidding?

Thank God for the so called "Torture"
Waterboarding that we have done.
God only knows how may American lives we have saved by doing what we have done.
Would you have rather cut off their freaken heads?

Personally, I'm OK with torture under these circumstances. Part of the criticism of torturing is that it produces unreliable information, which is not necessarily true. Torturing to elicit a confession is notoriously unreliable and really does nothing to prevent future harm, so it's not right in any circumstances. Torturing to obtain intelligence information about FUTURE acts by OTHER people is more reliable, making it more justifiable. When you also consider the fact that the torture was relatively non-violent and was only used on a VERY small number of high level detainees that we knew almost certainly had useful information about future attacks... I'm sure if it saved the life of ONE of your family members you would think differently!
Yes, thank you Mr. Bush.

James Wolfer said...

Red head:

Are you kidding?

When you also consider the fact that the torture was relatively non-violent and was only used on a VERY small number of high level detainees that we knew almost certainly had useful information about future attacks... Not at all true. It was torture. By its very definition it is violent. And we waterboarded one of them 183 times. Seriously.

Did you know that we executed people as war criminals for waterboarding? After WWII we convicted a Japanese Officer for waterboarding.

Did you know that historically the US has always considered waterboarding torture? That doesn't change just because one president decides to change the definition. Torture is torture.

George W. Bush said we don't torture in 2005. He is a liar and a war criminal.

He should be arrested and charged as such.

He broke numerous internation treaties that we signed. He broke Congressional Law, which goes against the Constitution. He should have been impeached, but he invoked Judicial Priviledge to cover up his crimes. He tried to change the definition of torture in order to do it.

So yes, thank you Mr. Bush. You showed just how low we could sink. You should be ashamed. You should be charged. You should be imprisioned.

TRUTH 101 said...

You've convinced me James. I too thought we should let stay in the past to protect whatever image needed protecting. After reading your thoughts, and a few others, I believe protecting our image as supporters of justice and human rights far outweighs and embarrassment that may be heaped on our former president.

James Wolfer said...

I just don't know why so few americans really care.

I'm blown away by those that defend this.

But we've always had those among us that would defend evil.

Slavery. Jim Crow Laws. Not giving women the vote. Sexism. Torture.

All of the above atrocities were once excused, even championed by "conservatives" who only wished to keep things the same, even if those things were evil. Today is no different.

TAO said...

There obviously has to be accountability.

Freedom without accountability is nothing more than the safety of tyranny of partisanship.

Its Animal Farm plain and simple.

We need to quit rewarding medals to incompetent but politically pliable people like Tenet, Bremer, Franks, and Brown.

With democracy and freedom comes an obiligation to be responsible...

That is true of Bush, Cheney, Yoo, and Bybee.

If we believe that we are a morally superior society then we cannot defend our actions while under attack by claiming we were only concerned about our safety.

That is nothing more than having convenient and or selective morals and values....