Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the Bush administration's "war on terror" is our abuse of detainees.
We have lost our way when we, and/or security and intelligence personnel paid for by U.S. tax dollars resort to torture, degradation, or abuse. There is substantial evidence that detainees have been subjected to such practices in our Guantanamo facility, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan.
As these atrocities have been exposed, the administration appears to have shifted its intelligence-gathering approach to avoid scrutiny. Jane Mayer, in an article published in the New Yorker, has documented the administration's transfer of detainees to countries that commonly use torture as a tool of interrogation.
By emulating the tactics of violent and amoral people, we have planted seeds of hatred, not reconciliation, in the Middle East. Such practices conflict with some of our highest ideals as a democratic people, as well as the core values imparted by the major religions, including Christianity.
We are only contributing to the cycle of violence in the region when we violate the human rights of detainees, some of whom have proved innocent of wrongdoing.
The vast majority of our frontline soldiers are not involved in these atrocities. However, when such war crimes are condoned by civilian or military authorities, the reputation and security of every American, at home and especially in the war zone, are compromised.
I want to urge all Americans and members of congress to oppose any legislation that would permit "extraordinary rendition," the deportation of individuals to countries where there is a reasonable possibility of torture associated with interrogation.
All individuals should be granted humane treatment. We must not condone the "outsourcing of torture." What good is it to defeat "the enemy," if we sink to a high level of brutality ourselves?
It has been noted that torture does not yield reliable intelligence. Even more important, engaging in torture corrupts the spirit of the interrogator. The individual who facilitates torture is no less profoundly affected by the nature of the act.
The recent Pentagon report to congress regarding the detainee abuse matter appears to constitute a blatant cover-up of the complicity of General Miller and Sanchez in the decision-making process that led to the abusive tactics that were adopted at Abu Ghraib.
General Janet Karpinski has stated that she was, in effect, threatened by Miller and Sanchez and forced by them to give free reign to intelligence personnel to "Gitmo-ize" the Abu Ghraib facility, i.e. to employ highly aggressive interrogation tactics that were perfected at Guantanamo.
Her allegation was reported in the Washington Post in 2004. General Miller's key involvement in interrogation design at Guantanamo was reported March 15 in USA Today.
It is disturbing to note that General Miller and General Sanchez remain in command in Iraq. I do not believe that General Karpinski would lie about such a momentous event concerning her command responsibility.
Now, the Associated Press has reported that 108 prisoners have died while in United States custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that 26 of those deaths are attributable to "criminal homicide."
Congress must launch an independent investigation of the situation in Guantanamo, as well as our treatment of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. Frankly, this administration and the Defense Department cannot be trusted to investigate themselves.
Abuse of power and bureaucratic cover-up of misconduct, along with a general erosion of civil liberties, are some of the societal characteristics associated with fascism. I sense an accelerated move towards Fascism in this country. People of conscience, inside the military and without, need to speak up now.