03 March 2006

Torture and Truthout

My brother sent me this letter from Ray McGovern, CIA Vet, delivered in the halls of congress, in a day of protest against torture-specifically the CIA's use of it.

One of his last lines rings especially true for me, "We Americans have become accustomed to letting our institutions do our sinning for us." He states earlier, "The issue is torture, which inhabits the same category as rape and slavery - intrinsically evil." These two points, together, I think, make the arguement. Although I think it can be said more simply: We are all human. None of us want to be tortured, nor is there an excuse for torture.

We have become complacent in SO many issues as Americans (and maybe it's not just Americans, maybe it's the global middle or upper middle class? Although, I think we are certainly the "worst" (if one's to judge, which I'll feel free and judge, thanks :) )). I don't think we even know how to protest anymore. Maybe my generation never did. My mom was the first woman to wear pants to her work in San Francisco in the late 60's; my aunt protested the Vietnam war; together they fought for women's rights and the right to accessible and safe abortions (now those are being flushed across the country with the swearing in of Alito and the sweeping anti-abortion legislation in both South Dakota and Mississippi).

These issues are so large, do we think we cannot approach them? Cannot change them?

It galls me that "Christains" and the "religious right" might vote for people like Bush and Cheney. Such gross human rights violations certainly would not fly with Jesus. What are they thinking?! I hope, for their sake, and to keep them honest, they are greeted at their pearly gates by torture victims (perhaps visiting from their own heavens or hells) with smiles, and sent down the elevator to the sweltering hell they are asking for.

Is that too harsh? I don't know. But the government and their minions are really pissing me off right now.

More from McGovern:

I Do Not Wish to Be Associated With Torture
By Ray McGovern
t r u t h o u t | Letter

Thursday 02 March 2006

Hon. Pete Hoekstra, Chair
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Washington, DC

Dear Congressman Hoekstra:

As a matter of conscience, I am returning the Intelligence Commendation Award medallion given me for "especially commendable service" during my 27-year career in CIA. The issue is torture, which inhabits the same category as rape and slavery - intrinsically evil. I do not wish to be associated, however remotely, with an agency engaged in torture.

Reports in recent years that CIA personnel were torturing detainees were highly disturbing. Confirmation of a sort came last fall, when CIA Director Porter Goss and Dick Cheney - dubbed by the Washington Post "Vice President for Torture" - descended on Sen. John McCain to demand that the CIA be exempted from his amendment's ban on torture. Subsequent reports implicated agency personnel in several cases of prisoner abuse in Iraq, including a few in which detainees died during interrogation.

The obeisance of CIA directors George Tenet and Porter Goss in heeding illegal White House directives has done irreparable harm to the CIA and the country - not to mention those tortured and killed. That you, as Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, show more deference to the White House than dedication to your oversight responsibilities under the Constitution is another profound disappointment. How can you and your counterpart, Sen. Pat Roberts, turn a blind eye to torture - letting some people get away, literally, with murder - and square that with your conscience?

If German officials who were ordered to do such things in the 1930s had spoken out early and loudly enough, the German people might have been alerted to the atrocities being perpetrated in their name and tried harder to stop them. When my grandchildren ask, "What did you do, Grandpa, to stop the torture," I want to be able to tell them that I tried to honor my oath, taken both as an Army officer and an intelligence officer, to defend the Constitution of the United States - and that I not only spoke out strongly against the torture, but also sought a symbolic way to dissociate myself from it.

We Americans have become accustomed to letting our institutions do our sinning for us. I abhor the corruption of the CIA in the past several years, believe it to be beyond repair, and do not want my name on any medallion associated with it. Please destroy this one.

Yours truly,
Ray McGovern

Ray McGovern works for Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He was an analyst at the CIA for 27 years, and is on the Steering Group of VIPS.


At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Sara said...

Jesus (the man, not the demigod), from what I can tell, was an amazing social revolutionary...unafraid to speak truth to power, unafraid to act...and never shedding blood. A worthy act to emulate.

I just paid my taxes. I do not wish to be associated with torture either...or any other blatent disregard for human dignity and life. The current administration has made a virtual art out of that disregard and my #$%^&* taxes get spent however the Bushies decree, supporting torture and murder and other atrocities I can't even imagine.

I'm tempted, from time to time (and this is one of them) to expatriate. To move to Canada and marry my Canadian-citizen girlfriend and write off any association with this government. But I don't want to give in to the elitist unconcionable bastards who have hijacked this country; I don't want to give up this land and it's people to diabolical forces.

So...I'm staying. I'm on your team, Susie. (Mills women of the world unite!) But I'm not quite sure how to proceed.

What would Jesus do?

At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Ames said...

I think speaking up around friends/family/acquaintances and random people you meet is something we can all do, even if what we're saying is unpopular. I say this because I'm currently living with my bro and him and I argue all of the time about politics and such even though he claims to be a "lefty." Let me tell you, he's not a "lefty" when it comes to women's reproductive rights. He's not a "lefty" when it comes to torture and war and gay rights. So I tell him what I think and he says I "bitch" too much and that I'm "too radical" and those comments give me some sort of satisfaction. He sounds like Bill O'Reilly when he says stuff like that. But I'm not going to let him intimidate me, and I'm not going to be intimidated by anyone else who thinks I'm nuts.

At this point, I feel like that's the most empowering thing I can do, simply speak up and speak loudly even if I piss off a friend or family member.

It was easy at Mills because we pretty much all agreed. But we have to keep that Mills thing going (I know it sounds cheesy) because we're the kind of women who will change this country. And if we don't change it we'll at least try.

So yeah, Mills women rule!

At 10:32 PM, Blogger cole said...

here. here.

i woke up the other night from a deep sleep anxious about paying my taxes. not for the usual reasons either, rather i was furious that i have to give my money to a government that doesn't grant me the same rights as the rest of the citizenry, both as a woman and a queer woman. i was terrified at giving them my money so that they could track my internet use, my consumer habits, my telephone use and even my choice of anti-establishment attire!! i was racked with fear that the torture they inflict on others will soon be turned on me and my fellow citizens.

hillary was right, this country has become unrecognizable.

At 9:04 AM, Anonymous peggy W said...

from McGovern's letter:

When my grandchildren ask, "What did you do, Grandpa, to stop the torture," I want to be able to tell them that I tried...

This is a reminder that I need to be DOING more and TALKING less.


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