Sunday, May 01, 2005

Torture, Etc. --- A Letter to Politicians

I just finished watching Sixty Minutes and I guess my cup runneth over --- the letter explains it all. There are only two congressman in RI, so I sent this to them along with the two senators. I'm not expecting anything out of this, but I think it's important that I express myself on this, and that many others of us express ourselves on this as I honestly believe this whole thing is getting out of hand.

The letter:

May 1, 2005

Providence, RI

Dear Congressman/Senator:

I think at this point I’ve reached the saturation point concerning the actions of our government with regard to how it's treating prisoners obtained in the war on terror. Today I read an article in the NY Times (“U.S. Recruits a Rough Ally to Be a Jailer” by Don Van Natta Jr., May 1, 2005) telling me how we’re shipping prisoners off to other countries where they’re tortured, and this evening (Sunday, 1 May 2005) I watched 60 Minutes to learn about “sexing up” prisoners, amongst other unacceptable interrogation techniques, and I’m figuring it’s time for me to write that I’m not happy and that I hope you’re office is involved in doing something about what’s going on here.

First there was Abu Ghraib, and apparently no one in a position of responsibility above a staff sergeant was responsible for that smear on the American image. But now we hear about improprieties being conducted at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba that in no way represent what I believe to be American values. It’s one thing watching this on TV, especially when the person being interviewed and making the allegations about American behavior has a book pending regarding this very subject; he has a vested interest in making a sensational story. But not long ago there was an article in U.S. News & World Report about FBI agents who reported abusive behavior at Guantanamo Bay and in this evening’s 60 Minutes this was brought up again. So we have a soldier who was there making claims about unacceptable American behavior towards prisoners, and on top of this we have FBI agents sending emails to their superiors saying essentially the same thing.

On top of this the U.S. government seems to be running an airline service to wonderful countries like Uzbekistan, a country our own State Department clearly points to as a practitioner of torture for its citizens, to the extent where boiling prisoners alive isn’t anathema. This is where we send prisoners? We torture prisoners to what specific purpose I’m not sure as the information obtained via torture is suspect at best, by sending them off to countries our State Department castigates for their human rights practices --- there’s clearly something wrong with this picture. First I can’t believe it’s legal to ship prisoners overseas, and second what fools believe that by torturing people we’re going to obtain reliable information?

I have no clue what’s going on, but what really frightens me is that it appears to me that far too many people in positions of responsibility who should know don’t either, and I’m inclined to believe their ignorance is at the bad end deliberate, and at best due to their belief in a system that they assume is acting in accordance with American values but in my understanding of those values sure and heck isn’t. I’m sick of hearing about this country talked about in the same context I’m accustomed to hearing terrorists discussed. I served this nation for 22 years and I’m proud of that service and what it represents, but I never thought that my nation would be associated with the sort of reprehensible behavior I’m now hearing about from far too many different sources.

So again, I’m very interested in hearing what your office is involved in to address this taint on the American character. That these sorts of claims are being made and taken seriously by so many divergent sources tells me that something’s wrong, people who think that doing anything in the interest of some ill-defined end seem to be running amuck and this has to be stopped.

I thank you for any information you can provide me regarding these matters and what’s being done to address them.




Blogger Africanuck said...

Good for you James. I hope that you get a response, and if so, will post it for us.


10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well put! And it is a pleasure to see you again, Mr. N. I look forward to the new ruminations.


12:41 PM  
Blogger CM said...

James -
It's great to hear from you, and what a great letter.
We need more outrage from the media these days - that and less distraction with Michael Jackson and runaway brides.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do hope you will get a response from them. Meanwhile I will enjoy trying to guess how they will weasel the language to make it sound like they are saying / promising something when they will not.


12:06 PM  

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