I've done a lot of writing that has offered some analysis of the debate that has broken out about torture. This has included the emphasis on understanding that torture is a moral issue -- torture is wrong, period -- and it cannot be excused or defended. I have written that the people in this country have a moral responsibility to act visibly in the millions to end torture and to hold those responsible for it accountable.
Over the last month the debate on torture has been raging on. Most of the terms of the debate have been very bad whether we are getting the perspective of top Democrats who defend not prosecuting war criminals because it would distract from the work ahead or whether it's top Republicans who say that if we don't keep torture that there will be another attack. Both arguments reek of American Chauvinism. Nowhere was this more evident than in Obama's speech on Guantanamo and detention which Andy Worthington posted on his website Transcript of Obama's speech. And then we had former Vice President's speech immediately following Obama's that defended the crimes of the Bush Regime Cheney's speech from AIE website.
Obama is working furiously to keep intact the very things he said he would change. He is putting a nice veneer on the ugliness that Dick Cheney is spewing. Obama is merely replacing the rhetoric used by the Bush Regime while keeping in place its practices.
Fortunately, it seems there is a segment of society that isn't allowing its conscience to be over-ridden with the terms of this debate; that actually wants to see the horror of torture stopped and wants to see those responsible held to account. An example of this can be found in reader's comments to a New York Times article in which its headline announces that 1 in 7 detainees released returned to terrorism. Readers comments ranged from pointing out that the headline is misleading in that 1 in 7 seems pretty low, to questioning how the U.S. knows these were terrorists to begin with since they were never charged with anything, to pointing out how torture can fuel anti-American sentiment.
When one reads the comments, one sees that not everyone is buying into the lies nor is everyone willing to go along. Read article and comments here. But this sentiment among the people, and it's a correct and just sentiment, has yet to break out visibly in a mass way.
There is still a sense that nothing can be done about it especially since Obama has done an about-face on these issues. Two days into his Presidency he signed an executive order that keeps rendition in place, his Department of Justice blocked evidence in the lawsuit against Jeppesen Data Plan for the extraordinary rendition of four detainees, he went to the C.I.A to assure them that no one would be prosecuted for having tortured people, he said that the detainees at Bagram detention center will have no right of habeas corpus, and Guantanamo remains open.
Some detainees will be tried here in the states but others will face indefinite detention primarily because the evidence coerced through torture would prove so embarrassing that to try them would expose the complete and utter farce the "war on terror" has been.
Just recently, the Department of Justice has said it will not prosecute those who authored the torture memos nor those who authorized torture. Obama has reversed his decision to release some 2,000 more photos of torture. His explanation that it would fuel anti-American sentiment therefore putting our troops in danger when really it is the torture that is in those photos that fuels this sentiment and puts troops at risk.
Yes, it is no wonder that the many who hate what has been done in their name feel that nothing can be done to stop it. They see the leadership of this country not only excusing and covering up the crimes of the Bush Regime, but also keeping intact the very criminal policies of that Regime. No wonder it would seem that no one cares or that the majority of people here in this country find all this acceptable.
But let's reframe this. It is true that the leadership does not care and is carrying forward these crimes, but it is not true that no one in this country cares. Millions in this country do care and hate all this. It is not true that no one is doing anything to end torture and hold war criminals accountable. It is true that the numbers of people that are doing something is not what it needs to be, but that doesn't translate into no one is doing anything.
There are those who recognize that the people themselves must take on the leading role in stopping the crimes of their government. Those who are challenging, opposing, and resisting are inviting the millions to join with them in this struggle.
So here I want to give readers the opportunity to see what activists in World Can't Wait have been doing in the last month. I'm providing links to articles about bold actions that WCW has done...
These are the kind of actions the people of this country who hate what is being done in their name must take the responsibility to take part in. My hope is that, after reading about these actions, many of you will be inspired and encouraged to step forward and join us in this righteous struggle. The people who have suffered because of these crimes need millions of us to act. It is only we in our millions who will end the torture state and stop the crimes of our government.
On Thursday, May 28, World Can't Wait and War Criminals Watch will be going out with the demand that the torture photos be released and demand prosecutions for the war criminals responsible for what these photos show. Here is a link which includes the basis for these protests and lists locations where these protests will be happening. Read List of Actions Here .
This space also provides a way for you, the reader, to list an action in your area that you would like to hold that day.
Jill McLaughlin is an activist/organizer with the World Can't Wait. She currently sits on the national steering committee of World Can't Wait and has been an active activist/organizer with the Chicago Chapter of World Can't Wait. She has written (more...)
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