Torture inappropriate

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, June 20, 2004

The administration spent months building a legal justification for torture. Its advisers wrote that what we're doing is not really "torture;" and even if it is really torture, as commander-in-chief the president can order torture if we're at war; and even if he can't usually order torture legally, even as commander-in-chief, he can in this case because of the dangers to national security.

Hogwash. What U.S. soldiers, agents, and contractors did to other people, as shown in photos and described by witnesses, was most definitely torture under common sense, much less U.S. statute, U.S. treaty obligations, and international law. There is no "unless the U.S. president wants to" escape clause in any of those legally binding documents. And, our national security is damaged by our participation in torture, not helped by it. It creates blind rage against the United States. Our troops are in danger of reciprocal torture if they are captured. And, studies and anecdotal evidence agree that reliable predictive information comes not through torture but through building a personal relationship of trust with those who are detained.

The U.S. public must hold elected U.S. officials accountable. Senior government officials have violated U.S. and international laws and treaties, trampled on our Constitution, and shamed America in the eyes of the world. The U.S. government has perpetrated torture in acts documented by testimony and photographs. Shockingly, such conduct apparently was condoned by policy decisions of the administration.

The administration and Congress have failed the principles for which America stands. Swift public action is the appropriate response to government officials who condone and wink at torture. Public action should be focused on members of Congress to force full and expeditious investigations. Reports of torture demand accountability for conduct unbecoming America. You are the public. Please take time today to remind our members of Congress - Sen. Ted Stevens, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Rep. Don Young - that democracy and freedom are built on respect for law and ordinary decency. The administration's resort to torture and violations of law threaten the very foundations of our form of government. This cannot stand.

I want my elected officials, to hear this message: Use a common-sense definition of torture. No torture in my name. Not ever, under any circumstances.

Amy Paige


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