Do You Want Action On Torture? Then You Must Act
Do you want action on the issue of the Bush Administrations apparent State Sponsored Torture program? It is an easy enough question, but you should consider it. Not, do you think it will happen or should happen, but do you want it to happen? Knowing the answer to this question can inform your next steps, so even if you think you know take a couple of minutes and really think about it.
There is no doubt this is going to be a truly divisive issue. There is a significant percentage of the population who feels that it is just fine to torture (though they would not use those words exactly) prisoners who are terror suspects. They have internalized this idea that somehow a small group can pose an existential threat to the United States. It is easy to scoff at this, the idea that any amount of terrorism could destroy a nation of 305 million which occupies 1/3 of a continent, but this is where the fear based policies of the Republicans have put us. They will be very upset if we even investigate the very credible charges of a State Sponsored Torture program.
This will absolutely be seized upon by the Republicans in Congress as a rallying cry. They will crank up the rhetoric about political witch hunts, about one party rule and will generally lose their cool in an effort to make this an issue that derails the Presidents policies, all of them. They will be on the cable news shows howling that we are caving in to the terrorists, that we are making it impossible for any President to keep us safe. They will claim that by investigating and acting on this investigation we will be destroying valuable ways of gathering intelligence and helping those who would attack the United States by giving them knowledge of the techniques that we might use to question them.
Of course this ignores the fact that any terror group in the world already knows that we have used stress positions, beatings, waterboarding, sleep deprivation, temperature extremes, and small confined spaces to question prisoners. It also ignores the fact that none of these torture techniques is effective at all in gaining actionable intelligence. They will not care at all about the facts; they will crank up the rhetoric to 11 and play it twenty four hours a day, everyday.
There will also be those, who are perhaps, not Republicans and not mouth breathers who believe the TV Show 24 is a documentary, who will resist this. They will point to the crises which the nation faces, two wars, an economy just barely above a Depression level and massive numbers of uninsured citizens and say “We have to focus on bigger problems”. They will not be evil or even obstructionist in this, merely cynical that the Rule of Law is something they should hold most dear, even in the face of major crises like these. They will use what the Republicans and their base will do as an excuse to not face a hard and shameful fact that our Nation truly has done what we thought only rouge nations did.
Then there is the time factor. Even if we get the Special Prosecutor that Rep. Conyers is recommending, it will take time to get the full scope of the crimes that were committed in the name of national security. There will be court cases arguing that the former President and his administration do not have to testify before a Grand Jury. There is no hope that they will win these arguments, but the whole tactic will be to play for time, and they will use it as aggressively as they can. They will try to make this as messy and drawn out as possible to make it an issue in the 2010 midterm elections. The Dog does not know if it would play well for them or not, but for a political Party that has no ideas and no focus this will be there obvious strategy.
Once the crimes are detailed, then trials begin. Or more properly the preparation for trails; again there will be motions and hearings and attempts to suppress evidence. There will be motions to dismiss. All of these will have to be heard and adjudicated, as our argument for doing this is the Rule of Law must be paramount, so we will have to allow all of the functions of this Rule to be used to defend those indicted.
In the end this will be a long and painful process and there are likely to be some that we would love to see convicted acquitted, there will be some sentenced to less than what we feel is appropriate punishment for their crimes. Ours is a system of law that try’s to give the defendant a strong advantage so that we do not convict innocent people and with the best lawyers that money can by, this will be used to someone’s advantage, count on it.
So, when we ask for action on torture, be clear in what you are signing up for. It will not be pretty, it will not be easy and we can not guarantee the outcome. If now, you as the Dog does, still feel that it must be done, that to fail to investigate and prosecute means a confirmation that there are two sets of laws in this nation, one for the powerful and one for everyone else, then you must start to act!
It is not enough to want change to happen, there are all kinds of things which we would like to be different in the world, but wanting it does not make it happen. If torture is an abomination to you, if the Rule of Law is something that you view to under pin all else in our society, if you just feel that we need to clear our name in the world, then the Dog is asking you to stop hopping it will be done and start making sure that it will be done.
What can we do? For a start, call or write your Representative and Senators in the Congress and tell them that you strongly support Rep. Conyers recommendation for a Special Prosecutor. It is the right thing to do whether they think the former President is innocent or not, as it will show what the facts are. Do this today, it takes about five minutes and it does not have to be a big deal, just that sentence above in an e-mail to put them on notice.
Start talking to your friends and relatives about this issue. It is not a pleasant conversation, there is no doubt about that, but if you want action you must take action. Go to this link and put your name on the petition, then send it to everyone you know. If you are a member of a church, start asking your pastor or priest what they think about torture and ask them to speak out for investigations to their flock.
If we all act in small ways, then this becomes too big for those that would like to sweep it under the rug to ignore. It becomes the voice of the People, which has been compared with the voice of God, and when that speaks, then action occurs in Washington.
So, we come full circle. Do you want, really want, action on torture? If the answer is yes, then the first step is yours. Do not let the ugliness and potential problems dissuade you, make a stand as a Citizen, as a Human Being to hold those that would degrade us all in the name of security accountable for their actions.
The floor is yours.