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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 7/4/09

Torture on the 4th of July

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The United States celebrates its Independence Day on July 4th, often marked by grandiose patriotic displays, yet seldom do we take the time to seriously contemplate the true meaning of patriotism.

This year's Independence Day celebrations come just two days after Justice Department recanted on the public release an unclassified version of the CIA Inspector General's 2004 Report into the interrogations of "high-value detainees" in the "War on Terror." Congressional staffers described the report as the "holy grail," according to Greg Sargent of the Plum Line, writing in May, "because it is expected to detail torture in unprecedented detail and to cast doubt on the claim that torture works."

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)

What does Independence Day mean to those  individuals still being illegally detained? What does Independence Day mean to those having been subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques? techniques that both the international community and our own jurisprudence define as torture. And what does Independence Day mean to Kenneth Mosley? Mr. Mosley is scheduled to be executed on July 16th using of a three-drug lethal injection protocol which is so inhuman as to be described as torture in a growing body of scientific peer-reviewed journals. In fact, the three-drug lethal injection protocol used in Texas has the potential to cause such extreme prolonged pain and suffering, that it is illegal to use the protocol is to kill animals.

The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, signed and ratified by the United States, requires that we as a nation not only prevent torture, but prosecute those individuals authorizing torture. However, on this Independence Day, we must ask why former President George W. Bush is not being held accountable for the illegal actions he authorized? We must ask why former Vice-President Dick Cheney is not being held accountable for the illegal actions he authorized? and we must ask why Texas Governor Rick Perry is not being held accountable for the illegal actions he continues to authorize? We must also question why Governor Perry is not prosecuted for the illegal distribution and use (Codified within Texas and Federal Law) of FDA scheduled drugs without a license. Governor Perry may be compare to a drug pusher, but rather than selling a little marijuana to a dieing cancer patient, he illegally distributes three drugs which often causes torturous prolonged pain and suffering, and he does so repetedely. In fact, on July 16th Kenneth Mosley will be the 201st person to be executed during Perry's tenure in office.

Yet we as a nation must ask why we have failed to hold these "patriots" accountable for their illegal actions? The answer seems to come easy for many of our friends and neighbors who claim that these "patriots" were only trying to keep us safe, or that the methods used did not raise to the level of torture, but even if it did, who cares if the bad guys suffer a little pain.

However, what guidance does the law provide us in answering questions such as these? Article 1 of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, defines torture as: "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person." To better understand the personal nature of torture, one need only turn to the experiences of a true patriot, Phillip Butler, awarded two Silver Stars, two Legion of Merits, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Heart medals, and who also spent almost eight years as a POW after being shot down over North Vietnam.

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Lawrence J. Gist II is a dedicated pro bono attorney and counselor at law, adjunct professor of legal studies at Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles, CA, a member of the board of directors of the Institute of Indigenous Knowledges, and a veteran (more...)
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