Friday, February 13, 2009

An Open Letter to Senator Feinstein

Senator Feinstein,

I am writing to you to express my deep concern about the attitude of many politicians which seems dangerously focused on 'moving forward' when such an attitude is entirely inappropriate for the situation with which we are faced. I realize that what I want is a politically inconvenient position, but let's make no bones about its reality: we tortured. These are not my words, but the words of Susan Crawford, convening authority on military commissions under the Bush Administration: "We tortured Mohammed al-Qahtani. His treatment met the legal definition of torture." Never was a more damning statement issued by any American in modern history.

Men and women in the service of these United States have engaged in the practice of torture. An illegal practice under both International and our own law. We made it into law. We led the way in establishing torture's illegality. This must, must be investigated and prosecuted. We have a responsibility to uphold the law. If we turn away from our responsibility now, how will American citizens ever be able to look each other in the eye again without shrinking beneath the shame of it? For it will then be our shame. Ours is a representative government; everything our government does is done in our name and for our sake and, on some level, by our choice. If we as a people turn a blind eye to the practice of torture in the face of such a confession as was given by the Bush Administration, the guilt becomes ours. Becomes mine. Senator, I beg you not to let this happen. I do not want such barbarism and brutality as a permanent stain upon my conscience and upon my soul, and so it shall be unless it is investigated and prosecuted in a court of law.

Again, I realize that this is a politically inconvenient thing to ask, but the sentiment appropriate to such a horror carried out by our own government in our names is not 'putting the past behind us.' Rather it is time for 'NEVER AGAIN.'

Paul Howard Wise