To My Republican-Supporting Friends and Family Members

Due to a bill that passed in the Senate today, I want you to understand just what you’ve been supporting since electing George W. Bush as President. I suspect that you’ve bought into the drumbeat, forced into your consciousness, that Democrats are terrorist sympathizers and are interested only in “cutting and running.” But let’s look at what today’s legislation has produced.

The United States now legitimizes torture. Despite evidence that tortured individuals will do or say anything in order to make the torture stop, the government believes that it can be like a great big Jack Bauer and beat the evil out of anyone it wants to. Today’s legislation gives them the power to do it. Legally.

“But,” you may be saying, “that’s not going to affect me, so why should I care? It’s all happening on the other side of the world.”

However, it’s likely going to happen to someone you know who’s serving the United States over there. Our government has just given a free card to any terrorist group that kidnaps American soldiers that says, “Torture our men and women, because we’ll do the same to you.” It’s bad enough that our government, as admitted by the President, has been rendering people to secret prisons for the past year (or more). Now it’s legal.

So, instead let me bring these actions home. The powers granted by the House and Senate this week give the President of the United States singular tyrannical power. Let’s suppose, next year or in ten years, that someone calls the government – the NSA, Homeland Security, CIA, FBI, whomever – and says that your spouse or your child participated in terrorist activities. It doesn’t matter to what extent those activities entail, or even if it’s true; the call is made.

The government, acting on behalf of the President, can arrest your spouse or your child and detain them. Detention could mean being sent to the facilities at Guantanamo Bay. And then, because of the laws passed today, you may never see your spouse or your child again. He or she would have no right to, or method to, refute the charges; he or she would not even need to be told what those charges were. While in indefinite detention, your spouse or your child could be legally subjected to torture. Not that you’d ever know about it.

Of course, this could happen to you, too. It’s all up to the President, currently the man who’s done more to damage this country that Bin Laden or Al Queda could have ever hoped.

I’m pissed and demoralized and wonder how the simple question of “Is torture okay?” turned into a yes.

(See: Glenn Greenwald, New York Times)

  1. Great, depressing piece. Nails on the head exactly what I’ve been trying to tell people this past week.


  2. We are no longer a free nation. It is too late to fix the problem and it will only get worse. I am glad I am 66 years old and I won’t be around to see the future USA.
    we have bullied our way around the world in the name of freedom when we were really just lining the pockets of a few. Just look at the wasted tax dollars in Iraq re-construction.
    I am afraid I have been a party to this as I have voted republican for my entire life. No longer. I’ve had enough but I know it’s too late. we have lost control of our government.
    I enjoy your articles.


  3. Yes, torture is okay. If it saves one life from some from some nutbag it was and is worth it. I don’t care who’s life it is, that does not matter. What matters is you have obtained/gained information in order to further an objective and or save lives. If that info comes from someone stuffed in a so called secret prison who was subjected to waterboarding or maybe having to wear womens panties, to bad. You should have been involved or around the activities that lead up to your sorry ass getting captured. If you were captured or detained then there was probably good reason for it. As for my family I would hope they are not stupid enough to get caught up in activities that would draw them into a situation where my government question what they were doing. If they are that dumb or want to be that dumb maybe they should come see me first and I’ll stick a boot in there ass. Bottom line, yes torture is ok.


  4. Scott, the whole point of this is that it doesn’t matter if your family is not “stupid enough to get caught up in activities that would draw them into a situation where my government question what they were doing.” Even if they’ve done nothing wrong, they can still be detained (perhaps there was a clerical error at the FBI, maybe they gave money to a charity that, unbeknownst to them, was a front for funneling money to terrorists). If they’re detained, then they won’t be able to defend themselves, and most likely you wouldn’t be able to access them either. And if you think that’s just a hypothetical situation, look at the case of Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen who had nothing to do with terrorism yet was shipped to Syria and tortured:


  5. I read the article you have linked in your response. I don’t believe the whole story is being told here. Don’t think, I don’t feel for Mr. Maher, what happened to him is a shame. Mr. Maher also had associates that were on US government watch lists, which spoke out about the US government. He also has a relative that was in or is in a group that the Syrians consider a terrorist group (the link you attached leads the reader to believe he himself was once a member of the group). He was not an American citizen and he carried a dual citizenship. He also skipped out on his duty as a citizen of Syria to complete his military service. The US government has the right to deport people traveling through or entering illegally into its country. It happens every day. Again he carried dual citizenship unfortunately he was deported to the country in which he had most loose. But remember he was still a citizen of that country. That’s his choice. He was offered to the Canadian government, they said “no”. If there is an issue it should be with the other two countries, he was a citizen of both countries. The United States was looking out for itself. This is poor example to back up your opinion. Show me someone like a granny from Ballard getting nabbed and you may get my attention. Thanks for the interesting reading.


  6. That’s just it: do you want to wait for a granny from Ballard to get nabbed before you wonder if the policies are fair? No. The government has put itself into a position that it can detain anyone it wants, whenever it wants, and there’s no oversight or accountability for it. Do you trust the government that much to go along with it? Certainly not the current administration, since they seem to stumble even when things are in their favor (such as not getting bin Laden at Tora Bora).
    Until this measure was passed, there were no rules prohibiting the government from acting against terrorists (or suspected terrorists). So why do they need the extra steps of detaining people without cause and without review? Why the power grab?


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