Open letter to my senator
Dear Senator ________:
Thank you for your letter in response to my anxious faxes and calls to your office prior to the passage of the Military Commissions Act. I am deeply grieved by your decision to vote in favor of this heinous bill.
I find it most inconsistent and disturbing, Senator, that you would go to the trouble of drafting an amendment to preserve detainees’ right to habeas corpus, only to vote the bill into law anyway once your amendment had been rejected. Your explanation that “the ability of our government to effectively fight the global war on terrorism would be hindered” without this bill can only be understood as a euphemism for falling in line with your political party.
Your mention of past support for Senator McCain’s amendment to the FY 2006 Department of Defense Appropriations Act prohibiting "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment" of detainees also rings false. The senator and his colleagues seriously compromised that amendment when they acquiesced to the compromise bill granting the President power to “interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions.”
Passage of the Military Commissions Act made it all the easier for Vice-President Cheney to agree with a recent interviewer’s assertion that “a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives.” Mr. Cheney no longer finds it necessary to conceal the fact that the CIA resorts to water-boarding, in spite of Senator McCain’s assurances that this despicable procedure, condemned as torture by democratic nations everywhere, would be prohibited.
Senator, whether or not our country is losing its brains, I am not prepared to say. However, I do agree with Rev. Kathleen McTigue and Rabbi Donna Berman, members of an interfaith group opposed to torture, who wrote in a recent op-ed piece that America is in the process of losing its soul. I must also sadly agree with Rev. John Perry, Jesuit priest and author of Torture: Religious Ethics and National Security (Novalis, 2005), who writes that “a modern liberal democracy that permits or encourages this practice, even as a strategy for survival, betrays its ultimate reality and meaning.”
I can only hope and pray that the judicial branch of our government will right this shameful wrong done by the legislative branch.