Do you know the tragic story of the death of Alyssa Peterson, a U.S. interrogator in Iraq and former Mormon missionary who killed herself in Tal Afar on September 15, 2003 after refusing to take part in the torture of U.S. detainees?
From a recent article by Greg Mitchell appearing in The Huffington Post:
Appalled when ordered to take part in interrogations that, no doubt, involved what we would call torture, [Alyssa] refused, then killed herself a few days later, in September 2003.
"Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed."
The official probe of her death would later note that earlier she had been "reprimanded" for showing "empathy" for the prisoners. One of the most moving parts of the report, in fact, is this: "She said that she did not know how to be two people; she ... could not be one person in the cage and another outside the wire."
The U.S. military lied about Alyssa's death, and tried for years to cover up the truth and keep even her own parents in the dark about how she died. Eventually, our government was forced to admit the facts about what had happened to Alyssa.
It's an incredible, awful, and heart-wrenching story, particularly for Mormons, particularly right now, as the spotlight of truth finally begins to fully illuminate the abject prevarication, gutless terror, and brutal depravity of the Bush/Cheney torture program and the horrible crimes committed under their orders in the name of all Americans.
Click here and here to read about Alyssa's story.
Critically important is the recently revealed fact that the Bush/Cheney torture program was originated and conducted for a purely political purpose. America's "enhance interrogation program" was not, as we've been deceitfully assured for so long, implemented to "save American lives" and to "prevent another terrorist attack on U.S. soil."
Not at all.
Contrary to the big lie continually fed to us by Bush, Cheney and others in their administration in an attempt to keep knowledge of their brutal, self-serving, truly Machiavellian criminality secret from the country they were supposed to be serving, the recently released report from the Senate Armed Services Committee makes clear that one of the central reasons that the United States began – for the first time in our history – an official policy of torturing prisoners in our custody was to elicit false confessions of a link (any link) between Sadaam Hussein and Al-Qaeda so that President Bush could justify and rally support for his planned invasion of Iraq. Although the CIA had already had already made clear that there was so such link to be found, the Bush/Cheney Administration was desperate and determined to find one, even if it meant relinquishing the power of our moral example in the world, abandoning America's most cherished and central values, and turning our country, the United States of America, the same one that Ronald Reagan called a "shining city on a hill," into a torturing nation, one of the "bad guys," a trampler of the rule of law and of the commandments of common human decency.
How unbelievably, stunningly, and horribly surreal this is. What in the world has happened to us ... that in this country, this America, we're even asking the question "Does torture work?"
Jesse Ventura, Navy Seal and former pro wrestler and governor of Minnesota, a self-described Goldwater conservative, proved the deceitfulness of the Bush/Cheney pro-torture neoconservatives during an interview on May 11, 2009 with Larry King (following are excerpts from the transcript):
[Waterboarding is] drowning. It gives you the complete sensation that you're drowning. It is no good, because you – I'll put it to you this way, you give me a water board, Dick Cheney, and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.
That's why torture is no good in a court of law, because if you're torturing someone, they are going to tell you what they think you want to hear to stop the torture.
Let me say this: they say it's prevented things by us torturing.
If that's the case, then why haven't we caught bin Laden? Because we got his people ... and if we tortured them, they ought to be able to tell us where he's at. See, it don't work. We haven't captured bin Laden. We haven't done anything.
Torture does not work.
America is the Constitution. Absent the rule of law equally applied to all her citizens, America no longer exists. She is defeated. Dead. Gone. Torturing prisoners is against the law, and those who commit or order such serious crimes must be punished accordingly, if America herself is to survive.
Remember George Washington, who refused to torture British prisoners during our nation's most critical time, our war for independence from England ... even though the British were torturing our own prisoners and the very survival of our newly born country was at stake?
Remember World War Two, when German soldiers fought fiercely just to be captured by the Americans rather than by the Soviets, because they knew the treatment they'd receive as U.S. prisoners would be entirely different than what they would face as Soviet captives?
Remember when we, the U.S.A., were the "good guys?" Although we've never been perfect or without sin as a nation (far from it), we used to value holding the moral high ground and for more than 200 years earned the respect and admiration of the entire world (and the eager cooperation of most of it) for doing so.
If we don't loudly and actively condemn this barbarity and act swiftly and surely to prosecute those who ordered, enabled, or committed torture in our name (remember, some detainees were tortured to death in U.S. custody – a capital crime), we risk no less than the loss of our identity as a nation that stands for, not against, the rule of law.
Manadel al-Jamadi – tortured to death in U.S. custody (Nov. 2003)
From a recent article by Juan Cole:
... Obama is unwittingly allowing the Right to lay the groundwork for permanent move to presidential dictatorship. Obama says he doesn't want to re-litigate the last 8 years. That is frankly disingenuous. The last 8 years was never litigated. And crimes were committed. If they are not addressed, they will become norms, not crimes.
The United States must not torture – because torture is wrong, and because nothing is more profoundly un-American. And because it's illegal. And because it doesn't work. And because it works against us.
Please join with me and many, many others all across America in calling for serious congressional inquiry and the appointment of a well-funded, independent special prosecutor to investigate and hold accountable all those (from whatever political party) who so flagrantly violated our nation's most fundamental laws and values abrogating torture of detainees:
Attorney General Eric Holder
Office of the Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C., 20530
Phone: 202-514-2001, 202-353-1555
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Email form: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
Pass it on.
The Democratic Activist