Letter to the Editor: Torture by Us Government
For years I have been writing letters to countries all around the world to urge them to discontinue torturing and abusing prisoners. I also urge them to investigate in particular cases whether it is true and find whomever is responsible to bring them to justice. That investigation and bringing to justice, I indicate, should be aware and may well have organization the accused are members of.
Sadly, I never thought I would have to write such letters to members of our government.
Early on in the U.S. push against terrorists, probably about the time we went into Afghanistan and began to bring prisoners to Guantanamo Bay, there was a news report from some officials as to what we would consider torture. It declared physical abuse as the only thing that would be considered such. It said that any type of psychological action on the persons, secret arrest, or things like holding without charge, not allowing family and friends to know where the person was or to visit, no contact with the person's preferred legal counsel are not torture. Therefore we would use these actions.
A couple things for all to think about. How would I feel and what would I do in such a situation, especially when innocent? Another is that, whether innocent or not, this is against our principles expressed in the Constitution about human beings and the law. It doesn't show that we believe in these principles.
Then came the pictures and reports of physical abuse of prisoners. Here, as in countries I have been writing to, those who actually did the physical abuse, at least in some cases, were held responsible. Those that were (are) in higher positions of authority are barely censured, if at all. They, in the same way they subtly indicated that torture should take place or find other ways around having persons abuse, continue to use these evasive means to protect themselves from trial.
As with leaders of other countries, I must "call a spade a spade" and tell our leaders that I do not believe this is how I expect Americans will act. Neither do people from other countries expect it. They lose respect for us.
When my leaders act to approve the torture and abuse of any kind, it is done in my name, since they are elected by the people to carry out the functions of government. So, if our leaders accept the performance of abuse, in any form, in any way, directly or through other countries, it is up to me and all others who recognize it to let these leaders know that we do not want it to happen. We care about people and this caring is what is behind the statements of the Constitution.
Ultimately, the use of abuse and torture is counterproductive. No bit of information, true or not, about someone else's wrong doing is worth demeaning ourselves. It engenders violence on the part of others at all levels. It creates a lack of trust in and among our own people and those we have considered friendly nations as well. In other words, it creates insecurity.