Why Torture Is So Heinous And What You Can Do About It

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

As those of you that can read the title and sometimes read the Dog’s posts know the Dog is very serious about torture. It is, in fact, the only issue that could make the Dog a single issue voter. There are few things more heinous than the act of State sponsored torture. It degrades every society that is seduced by its brutality for whatever reason. There is nothing that a country can do that is worse for it and for its people than to engage in torture.  

What makes torture so bad is that it is not just the inhumane acts that are inflicted on the victims of torture. That is not to minimize the pain, terror and permanent injuries, both physical and physiological the victims, at least those that survive, endure. It is just that the damage of torture is not limited to the victims. It extends to the culture of the country that engages in torture. Even if the torture is nominally secret it always leaks out, either through press reports or the whispered tales of those that have had it inflicted on them. It leaks out in the sadistic bluster of the torturers or their anguished repentance at what they have done, but it always comes out.

This is where the secondary damage is done. There will be, in any culture, those who for whatever reason support the practice. They will talk of it being necessary for security, they will talk of the tortured deserving it, they will, perhaps, talk of it with regret but they will all be supporting the practice. This is where the society suffers, as it begins to break down the whole idea that all citizens, all humans, have rights. It damages the idea that it is one of the worst possible crimes to hold someone in your power and inflict pain and suffering on them whether the reason for that is intelligence or vengeance.

Once that degradation begins the act of torture no longer shocks the conscience of as many of the nation’s citizens. It makes it that little bit more acceptable to that many more people. Soon the threshold for who might be reasonably tortured is lowered. It is no longer the worst of the worst, no longer the “high value prisoners”, it moves it way down. As this happens all people citizen or not become less safe from its potential clutches. As those that order torture and those that carry it out start to see that they will not be punished, that the people are not raising up to smite them in a fit of rage at the heinousness of their actions, they often become emboldened.

This process does not have to be linear, there can be gaps of time where a country does not, will not torture. The problem is that those who would trade their very humanity for power will never forget those that dared to torture and were not punished for it. They will remember in 10 or 20 or 40 years when they regain power that their predecessors did it, and got away with it! They will take up the reigns and once again the cancer of torture will grow, will flourish.

This will not change, until and unless the country that has tortured takes the hard step of investigating, indicting, trying and where appropriate convicting and punishing those that ordered and those that carried out torture. Until it is made very clear that it is so unacceptable that no one, for any reason, is safe from prosecution for these crimes, these War Crimes, there is a much greater chance that this cancer will metastasize.

We are in this position as a nation right now. We know, from the public statements of our previous administration that torture was ordered, was carried out and in some cases was video-taped. This is not in dispute; these are the public facts that are well known. We are also in a major economic crisis as well as being involved in two wars. It is easy to make the case that we have too much on our collective plates to focus on the facts of our State sponsored torture programs. It would be easy to accept these arguments if it were not for the very real fact that we are placing ourselves, our children and our nation at future risk if we do so.

In order to get to the place where we carry out our duties as a country that believes in the rule of law, our duties as citizens and our duties as members of the human species we must keep this issue in front of those that we have placed in positions of power. They need to be pushed, and pushed insistently and constantly to do what they and we know is the right thing. The question becomes how do we do this?

The Dog has an idea and he needs your help. This is going to take some time, about 15 minutes, every Monday from now until there is a resolution, and no, a Truth Commission that offers immunity is not that resolution. Here is the deal, staring today, the Dog will write a small notice every Monday that can then be cut and pasted to the following Departments and people:

Department of Justice, attention AG Holder

US Supreme Court, Attention All Justices

The White House, Attention President Obama

Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Majority Leader Harry Reid

By sending a short letter explaining some aspect of torture every single week, we will be able to raise the level of awareness of the seriousness with which we take this issue. It might seem like a small thing, and it is but if we can week after week, fill the in boxes and mail boxes with various missives about torture we will get it into their awareness. This is a first required step to make sure that torture is investigated and prosecuted.

Now, it will take a little commitment to do this. The Supreme Court does not accept e-mail (they are closet Luddites) and the links for the Speaker and Majority Leader require filling out a form, but if it seems like too much work to you, think how much any victim of torture would be willing to trade places with you. The Dog is sorry if that is harsh, but never forget that men have been strapped to a board and had water poured onto them until they would say or do anything, this is what we are trying to prevent from every happening in our names again.

So, who is with the Dog? Here is your first letter, feel free to edit it or write your own, but send it (yeah you have to pay for stamp and an envelop for the Supreme Court):


Dear (insert name here);

I write today to bring the facts of torture that was committed by the country to your attention. We know that at least three men were water-boarded by the Untied States. One of them was Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Now no matter how disgusting a person is, we in the United States have always believed that he or she should never be tortured, for intelligence or any other reason. It is why we executed Japanese and Germans who committed these atrocities in World War II. It is why we were and are a Signatory to the International Conventions Against Torture.

These very conventions require that we investigate any allegations of torture and try those that ordered and carried out these acts. By Article 6, Section 2 of the United States Constitution a Treaty is to be considered the Highest Law of the Land, just like any Federal Statue or the Constitution itself.

For these reasons as well as humanitarian ones, I ask you as a citizen of this nation to do all in your power to fulfill our obligations. As citizens we must be sure that the law is applied to all, or else it means nothing for any of us.

I thank you for your time and efforts on behalf of the Unites States, the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Sincerely,

Now here is the contact info for each:

Department of Justice, attention AG Holder – AskDOJ@usdoj.gov

US Supreme Court, Attention All Justices –

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Bldg.

Washington, DC 20543

The White House, Attention President Obama

Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Majority Leader Harry Reid

If you are worried about torture, then this is something, one small thing that you can do about it. All it takes is fifteen minutes of your time, once a week.

The floor is yours.  

4 comments

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  1. if you will just commit 15 minutes, a stamp and an envelope a week to send them and make sure that torture is punished.  

    • Valtin on March 10, 2009 at 8:26 am

    for your heartfelt, well-written, and informational essay. I’ll take up pen and write another letter. I always did want to write the SCOTUS 😉

  2. You are doing great work here.  Keep it up.

    We wouldn’t be talking about this if the Bushies had not violated our laws and Constitution.

    We must have a Special Prosecutor appointed.

    Your congressman should should be calling for the appointment of a Special Prosecutor for the Bush appointees that violated Federal Laws, Treaties and the Geneva Convention on Torture.

    Torture is a Federal crime with penalties of 20 years to life and the death penalty if the prisoner dies as a result of torture. It is a very serious crime. They took people off the streets and held them without charges for years.

    Sign the Petition   AngryVoters.org

    over 63,000 signed so far.

    Individuals:

    Sign The Petition To Prosecute those in the Bush Administration that violated Federal Laws.

    Have your organization pass this url to members with a recommendation to sign.

    Groups:

    Endorse the Joint Letter To Attorney General Holder asking him to appoint a Special Prosecutor for Bush, Cheney and appointees who approved TORTURE and violated other Federal Laws

    http://AngryVoters.org

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