Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Torture

I am heartbroken and utterly distressed that the United States of America resorted to torture.

Yet, I'm grateful that it's been disclosed.

Who's perfect?

No one, that's for sure.

And neither is America.

We're a great nation, but we've stumbled, and we've stumbled badly under the cloud of fear that gripped us after 9/11. As we descended into the darkness of fear, we lost our way.

I guess that's okay; it happens, to nations and to individuals.

But there comes a time when nations and persons have to face up to their situation.

It's time for us as a nation to face facts ... as we've done with slavery and Native Americans; we've had to face the sad truth of our history, and it's okay. No one's perfect, but what's important in confession is our character. It's not about perfection, but the ability to say we've crossed a line and committed crimes against humanity.

Just watching Arie Fleisher right now trying to justify the Bush Administration on this one. It doesn't work; Fleisher is struggling for words. We executed Japanese interrogators who used waterboarding against Americans.

We crossed a line, and it's time for us to say so, clearly and forthrightly.

It's time for confession.

And it's time for a leap forward.

The United States of America is a great nation, I believe, and we're great in our honesty, our willingness to adopt procedures that are just and humane in our treatment of prisoners, regardless of who they are and whatever their philosophy, and to stick by those policies no matter what. Rather than sinking to the lowest common denominator, we've been able to mostly maintain our character, and that's what makes us great.

America, it's okay to stumble. It's okay to face the facts. It's good and right to say, "We're sorry!"

And it's important to say, "It'll never happen again."

11 comments:

SO Katie said...
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Mac said...

Shoddy advice? As one of my law school profs once reminded us, there are two sides of every legal issue: The majority opinion of the Supreme Court, if submitted as a law school exam answer, would get an A. The dissent, if submitted as a law school exam answer, would also get an A.

Nothing that we did to these thugs who killed our people simply because of who we are as a nation can really be called torture, except in the minds of those who are incapable of understanding that the world is a bad place with bad people in it. We did not cut off the heads of innocent people. We did not dislocate shoulders. We did not starve anyone to death.

We did use intense methods which inflicted no lasting harm to get information necessary to protect our country and its citizens. A Nation that is unwilling to defend itself and its citizens is doomed and no longer deserves to be free.

The Democrats (especially Speaker Pelosi) knew what we were doing and had no objection at the time. 20/20 hindsight is perfect as a learning tool, but it cannot change history.

SO Katie said...
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SO Katie said...
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judy said...

The ends justifying the means is a really scary bit of reasoning. There is no end to the list of atrocities that might be justified that way. I hope we're better than that.

SO Katie said...

Amen Judy ...

Bin Laden is hanging out in Tora Bora.

Here is what I wrote about Camp Delta: http://www.sokatie.com/2009/02/from-japanese-internment-to-gitmo.html

Yes, we do have some terrorists in there. Just like if we did a drag net of all Chinese we'd probably find some spies for their country etc. But, what about the people who are innocent?

Also, for those of us who are Christians, what happened to turn the other cheek? Pray for those who persecute you? When someone asks for your cloak give them your coat as well ... etc etc etc that was in reference to the Roman authorities who were killing the early Christians for public sport. Yet, Jesus said not to resist them.

castaway said...

Mac, you and I are sure in different places ... I've just read your profile.

I'm a child of God, too, through Jesus Christ my lord ...

So, that makes us brothers in Christ ... but we sure see the world differently.

By the way, I'm a PCUSA pastor ... and you're New Wineskins ... but glad you're reading my blog ... and thanks for the comments - they're thoughtfully framed, though I would take issue with just about everything you've said, except the love of Christ.

You mention your "four angels" - there must be some sad stories here.

Blessings and Peace ... I guess when we all stand before Jesus, it'll be figured out for us.

SO Katie said...

Here is an interesting report: http://www.propublica.org/special/torture-memos-vs.-red-cross-report-prisoners-recollections-differ-0424

The ICRC report does focus on the more infamous of the people at camp delta. However, it is worth noting that some form of these tactics were used on a lot more of the prisoners.

What was England convicted of exactly? Like, what at Abu Grahib crossed the line compared to Camp Delta?

Mac said...

Castaway, I have to agree that we are in different places. You have the advantage because you have read my profile, but I cannot find yours. (I am an old dog; it may be that I have not learned the new trick of finding it. 8>)]

I had sort of figured out that we are different when I saw that you are a Harry Emerson Fosdick sorta guy, and I get to stand in the very footprint of J. Gresham Meachen, who preached from our pulpit, when I am the serving elder every 8 weeks or so.

This has been a fascinating thread. It demonstrates that we, as a Nation, are deeply divided by a chasm that has own over the past 40 years. I find it revealing that we have citizens who think that depriving an enemy combatant of sleep in order to get information that will protect our citizens is an atrocity. I have seen atrocities--when the Viet Cong entered a refugee camp, beheaded and dis-emboweled the Village Chief's family in his presence before killing him, that was an atrocity. 9/11 was an atrocity.

In the course of our political exchange, you wrote "By the way, I'm a PCUSA pastor ... and you're New Wineskins ... but glad you're reading my blog ... and thanks for the comments - they're thoughtfully framed, though I would take issue with just about everything you've said, except the love of Christ."

Well, I do love Jesus Christ and trust Him as my savior and the only way to the Father.

However, I have tracked back and do not see that I interjected my love of Christ or yours in this discourse. I write on political issues in my capacity as an American citizen. I trust that you are not seeking to turn me into a spokesman for the EPC any more than I would suggest that you speak for Louisville.

That being said, we have been called by the Master to labor in different parts of His one vineyard. I will be praying for the success of your ministry in building and expanding the Kingdom and will hope that I can receive the same from you.

Blessings,

Mac

Mac said...

Sorry for the typo. I meant to type: "It demonstrates that we, as a Nation, are deeply divided by a chasm that has grown over the past 40 years."

SO Katie said...

Hey, as per the effectiveness of torture ... here is what I wrote on the subject.

http://www.sokatie.com/2009/04/does-torture-work.html

It cites two interviews, one with former FBI interrogator Ali Soufan, and another with a former USAF interrogator Matthew Alexander.

Based on their testimony, and that of Sen. McCain ... even in terms of effectiveness torture is not justifiable.

I'm going to look into Ms. England's conviction, and compare the findings with the torture memos and ICRC report. I'm trying to figure out where she crossed the line enough to get court marshaled and thrown in jail. I mean, it would seem rather ironic that she would be thrown in jail by the people who told her to do it. So we'll see.

Keep on keeping on.