Torture: Just Say No!
John McCain caved in and the Senate will allow a flawed compromise that, while it doesn’t redefine the Geneva Conventions, will still allow torture, secret prisons with the absence of habeas corpus (and, potentially, life imprisonment without ever being guilty of anything), and trial by military tribunals rigged to be able to ensure convictions–which is not a trial, but a “kangaroo court.” (What could have endorsed McCain to betray his fellow torture survivors and his own integrity? Did Bush promise an endorsement in ’08?)
Faith leaders in Connecticut are working to insist that their Representatives act on the belief that torture is always wrong. This is part of the wider National Religious Campaign Against Torture, which I urge all of you gentle readers to join. Without faith leadership, we cannot guarantee that our political leaders of either major party will put moral principle above expediency–especially if it means they look “tough on terror.” Evangelicals have been mostly silent on the torture issue (with some major exceptions), and at least some younger evangelicals are calling their elders on this appalling moral silence. As Rick Phillips puts it, “Are evangelical leaders really unable to see the moral issues involved, or is (as I think more likely) our political alliance with the Republican Party simply leading us astray on this issue? If the price of fighting for biblical morality in America means that we cannot always speak out for biblical morality, then perhaps we should rethink our tactics.” (My emphasis.)
Meanwhile, truth continues to break through the smokescreen of official propaganda. Bush closed the secret prisons (and admitted their existence) in part because CIA interrogators refused continued cooperation. But the fate of some CIA detainees is still unknown. The recently retired top CIA expert on Islamic extremists has slammed Bush admin. tactics for losing a generation of goodwill among young Muslims who could have become pro-Western if not for this admin.’s immoral and stupid policies. This echos the views of Colin Powell & many other retired generals, intelligence experts, and federal judges (whether Democratic or Republican appointed). And the treatment of Mahrer Arar, innocent Canadian civilian, sent by both Canadian and U.S. incompetence to Syria for torture, is a loud wake up call.
Contact your representative today and tell them that if they support this flawed torture bill, you will not remember them fondly in November. Then call the White House Comment Line (202-456-1111) and urge the President to quit trying to bend the rule of law and remember his loudly proclaimed Christian faith on this issue. Make this a church congregational campaign and keep mentioning your church’s name since Bush considers Christians his base. Then write an op-ed to your local paper.
If the U.S. church is silent on torture, future generations will look back in horror, the way we do now at the German church’s silence on Hitler, the cooperation with apartheid by most white churches in South Africa, and with segregation by most white churches in the U.S. South, and the justification of slavery by so much of American Christianity in the 19th C. These are legacies of shame–not examples to emulate. It’s time to step up and speak out.
Update: As related here, several human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the ACLU, and the Center for Constitutional Rights, have already denounced the “compromise” between McCain & Bush on detainee treatment. Add your voices to the protest.
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