Friday, February 18, 2005

The Tortured Administration of George W. Bush

In 1784, Thomas Jefferson wrote on the subject of religious intolerance:
Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.

It was with a heavy heart that I read once again today of new evidence of torture in Afghanistan in addition to the already known torture problems in Iraq and Guantanamo.

As is reported:
New evidence has emerged that U.S. forces in Afghanistan engaged in widespread Abu Ghraib-style abuse, taking "trophy photographs" of detainees and carrying out rape and sexual humiliation. Documents obtained by the Guardian contain evidence that such abuses took place in the main detention center at Bagram, near the capital Kabul, as well as at a smaller U.S. installation near the southern city of Kandahar. The documents also indicate that U.S. soldiers covered up abuse in Afghanistan and in Iraq -- even after the Abu Ghraib scandal came to light last year.

Are we fools? Hypocrites? Or both?

I am ashamed of those who have implemented those policies.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote:
[W]e are the heirs of a past of rope, fire, and murder. I for one am not ashamed of this past. My shame is for those who became so inhuman that they could inflict this torture upon us. ~Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967

And not only is there evidence of such activity, but now there is evidence of destruction of incriminating evidence:
Meanwhile, photographs taken in southern Afghanistan showing U.S. soldiers from the 22nd Infantry Battalion posing in mock executions of blindfolded and bound detainees, were purposely destroyed after the Abu Ghraib scandal to avoid "another public outrage," the documents show.

In 1971, a much younger John Kerry returned from Vietnam to testify to Congress about the atrocities in Vietnam.

As John Kerry stated at that time:
We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out.

Our very effort at establishing free countries in these regions is threatened by our policies of torture. Do we engender support for the American way? What is the American way anymore? What do we stand for?

The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. hold an important message for us. He wrote:

[E]very human life is a reflection of divinity, and... every act of injustice mars and defaces the image of God in man. ~Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967

Senator Kerry, our nation calls out for you to speak once more on Justice and Decency in America. We cannot treat our most despised prisoners worse than we should wish them to treat our own soldiers. We cannot lose our own humanity and relinquish the high ground on decency in this war.

Keep that door open for 2008. Our country, our soldiers, our ideals call out to you to run for President in 2008. We have your back!



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