So it ain’t breaking news that the Bush administration concocted a legal flip-flam to justify the kidnapping, capture, detention and torture of hundreds of people from around the world, under the guise of national security. But to witness how and exactly what they did in meticulous detail – legal memos, public statements (ie, lies) by administration officials, accurate re-enactments of torture, and testimony from a few extraordinarily strong men who survived death-defying treatment – was beyond maddening.
This happened last night as my husband pulled me away from Facebook to watch Torturing Democracy, an excellent new documentary produced by National Security Archive and Washington Media Associates airing now on PBS. My blood was boiling by the end.
Perhaps most compelling were the half-dozen or more former military officers who denounced the detainee treatment policy. These guys weren’t paper-pushing, desk-weenies. One is a former Navy aviator and one is the former head of the Navy’s SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) program. They stated emphatically how this undercut America’s core values and how this will harm American servicemen and women “for decades.”
Here’s a transcript from Malcolm Nance, Chief of Training, US Navy SERE, (1997-2001):
“It will hurt us for decades to come. Decades. Our people will all be subjected to these tactics, because we have authorized them for the world now. How it got to Guantanamo is a crime and somebody needs to figure out who did it, how they did it, who authorized them to do it, and shut it down because our servicemen will suffer for years.”
Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch, Senior Prosecutor, Office of Military Commissions, (2003-06):
“If we stoop and we compromise on our ideals as a nation, then these guys have accomplished much more than driving airplanes into the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon.”
As for me, I’m not religious, but I love how Col. Couch simply framed this issue:
“God means what he says. And we were created in his image, and we owe each other a certain level of dignity — a certain level of respect. And that’s just a line we can’t cross.”
As a human being, I was heartbroken and astonished that anyone could survive torture of this sickness and duration. As the daughter of a 32-year decorated Viet Nam veteran (U.S. Marine), I can only imagine that my dad is turning in his grave at Quantico National Cemetery. As an Amnesty International staff member, I am both fired up and proud that my organization is unwaveringly committed to fighting this unspeakable crap wherever it occurs, no matter who does it and no matter how far ahead of public opinion we may be.
Skip late-night Friends re-runs, this is must-see TV — if you care what your government does in your name.
Most Americans are ready to move beyond the nightmare of the last eight years. Yep, I’m all for massive change. But for some things in life the perps really ought to pay. And the U.S. war-on-terror detainees’ policy is one of them.
Sign Amnesty International’s petition for accountability. They just can’t get away with this.
Watch the trailer to Torturing Democracy