As a patriot who fought and
sacrificed for our country, I ask all Americans to stand up for what
is civil, humane and right. If we don't demand accountability for
the crimes that were committed in our name, then we as a nation will
have effectively institutionalized the torture of the last eight
years. Let's keep the promise for ourselves and all humanity, the
promise that is our United States of America.
- Phillip Butler (8 Years as a POW)
United States Naval Academy graduate
and Veterans for Peace member, Dr. Phillip Butler, said today that
"civil liberties and human rights organizations around the country
are calling for accountability for torture. I'm amazed and
profoundly disappointed that this has apparently become necessary in
Upon his graduation from the United States Naval Academy in 1961, Dr. Butler served 20 years as an active duty commissioned officer in the United States Navy. As a naval aviator he was shot down over North Vietnam and for almost eight years was incarcerated as a prisoner of war. During his distinguished career he was awarded two Silver Stars, two Legion of Merits, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Heart medals.
Remembering those horrific years as a
POW, Dr. Butler said the he "and more than 90 percent of my fellow
POWs were repeatedly tortured for the extortion of information to be
used for political propaganda and sometimes just for retribution.
Because the Vietnamese had not yet formally recognized any
international treaties on treatment of prisoners - including the
Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War or
the United Nations' Convention Against Torture - we were not
treated as POWs, but instead pronounced 'criminals.'"
During his captivity as a POW, Dr.
Butler and his fellow POW's, he said, "were regularly subject to
torture, harassment, malnutrition, isolation, lack of medical care,
and other degradations during our captivity. I was tortured dozens of
times during my captivity. I often thought of our Constitution and
the higher purpose we served - a purpose that helped me resist
beyond what I thought I'd ever be capable of. Ironically, we POWs
received great moral and psychological strength during our
incarceration, telling each other, 'Our country is civilized and
would never knowingly treat people like this. Our country would never
stoop to torture and the low level of treatment we were experiencing
at the hands of our captors.'"
Speaking with pride, Dr. Butler said,
"we felt we had the moral high ground and took great pride in being
American, above such barbarity. Besides, we all knew from experience
that torture is useless, because under torture we told our tormentors
whatever we thought they wanted to hear. Whenever possible, we
slipped in ridiculous statements like one I used in a
torture-extracted 'confession,' that "only officers are allowed
to use the swimming pool on the USS Midway.' Another friend wrote in
a 'confession' that 'my commanding officer, Dick Tracy, ordered me to
bomb schools and hospitals.' These are just two examples of the kind
of culturally embedded nonsense people can expect to extract through