Weekly Torture Action 3 – ‘Criminalizing Policy’ Letter
Welcome the third week of the Dog’s letter writing campaign about torture. This is a small effort to keep the decision makers of our nation aware that we as a people will not and can not simple draw a line under the State Sanctioned Torture policy of the criminal Bush administration. The basic premise of this series is that the Dog will write a letter every Monday to the President, the Attorney General, and the Justices of the US Supreme Court, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, reminding them of one or another point about the State Sanctioned Torture policy of the last Administration. Those that wish to join the Dog in this endeavor are more than welcome to cut and paste the entire thing or write their own on the topic of the week.
At the end of this essay the Dog will give you the links that you need to send this message out. There is a little hiccup with the Supreme Court, in that they do not accept e-mail (are they Neo-Luddites? That is a topic for another day), so you have to print you letter, put it in an envelope and send it old school style. The good news is that even when a letter is addressed to all the Justices many of them are read by them, not just there staff. We also know that President Obama has 10 letters a day pulled from the 40,000 a day that he gets for his personal review. This means that the more of us that make this commitment and keep it, the more likely it is that we will reach the people that can make the choices that will lead to investigation, indictment, prosecution and (hopefully) conviction of those that ordered and those that carried out torture in the name our nation.
This week the Dog is going to talk about the meme of criminalizing policy disputes.
Dear (insert name here):
I write this week, as I have before, to implore you to follow the dictates of the law under both our criminal code and the International Conventions Against Torture. In the past two months there has been an idea floated by members of the Obama Administration, including the President himself, that to investigate the very credible allegations of a State Sponsored Torture policy by the Bush Administration would somehow be “criminalizing policy disputes”.
This is a fine and very lawyerly premise, which sounds measured and reasonable. However it suffers from a major flaw in logic. Policy itself is either legal or it is not. If a policy, such as a State Sanctioned Torture policy, is illegal, then it was always a criminal act. There is no affirmative criminalization of the policy. This is true regardless of the intentions good or otherwise of those that order it and those that carry it out. If the Mayor of a city sent the police to rob banks and distribute the proceeds to the neediest of the cities citizens it would still be a crime that both he and the police that carried it out would be investigated for and ultimately convicted of.
In fact the act of failing to investigate, what can be from the public statements of Bush Administration officials, only be called a State Sanctioned Torture policy, is to decriminalize the act of State Torture. Long term this will have the effect of making it easier and more likely for the United States of America to have a State policy of torture of prisoners.
I recognize that to undertake this kind of investigation is going to be politically hard. The exposure of our torturous acts and the official policy of torture behind them will anger many of our citizens. It will also bring to the fore a debate about the realities of torture. This is a debate that we have by no means settled in this nation. There are those that will support the horrible and inhuman treatment of our enemies. All of this will play out in the political as well as the legal arena.
While this will be hard I, as a citizen of this nation, must ask you to exercise your courage. This is a exactly the type of times where the belief in our better nature as Americans must come forward. We can not be the nation we want to be, the example the world needs, as long as we leave these crimes (and there is no doubt that they are indeed crimes) uninvestigated and unprosecuted. It is a tragedy the top officials of a Presidential Administration would be involved in the sanction of torture as State policy, but please, I beg you, do not compound that tragedy by failing to follow the law, merely because it is hard. Leadership and its perks are paid for by doing the hard, by doing the right thing.
(Insert your name and address here)
You can send your Supreme Court letter to this address:
US Supreme Court, Attention All Justices –
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court Bldg.
Washington, DC 20543
You will be able to e-mail the President, AG Holder, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid at the following links:
The White House, Attention President Obama
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Majority Leader Harry Reid
Department of Justice, attention AG Holder – AskDOJ@usdoj.gov (I am having trouble making this link work, just put it in your browser and it will take you to the page where you can send the e-mail)
So, there is this weeks letter. The Dog does not often ask for action, but he will in this case. Will you please take 15 minutes of your time, one envelope and one stamp to make sure that we do not torture in the name of the United States of America?
The floor is yours.