"this issue (torture) represents what it means to be human - or not"

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9/22/2009 10:00:00 PM 
Join the fight to end torture

Anne Rooney and Richard Means, One View

We have been watching and reading with great interest the discussions about the recent release of the 2004 CIA inspector general's report on the torture practices used and supported by the U.S. government and done in our name. Even though still heavily redacted, what was released was truly appalling: mock executions, waterboarding (simulated drowning), power drills being revved up and held to the head of a hooded detainee, threats of killing children, and raping mothers in front of the detainees. It's as bad as we thought, even worse.

To us, this issue represents what it means to be human - or not. It really doesn't matter if some of these victims of torture were the truly evil ones who have done great harm to the United States and continue to threaten the world. Torture and other human rights abuses bring us down to their basest level, and betray our deeply held values of what it means to be a citizen in a civilized country. We and others have prosecuted past such abuses as war crimes.

A small group of Chicago and Oak Park activists recently organized a "Teach-in to End Torture and Human Rights Abuses." The educational event, which was held Sept. 13 at Unity Temple, was both necessary and timely.

Our goal is to educate and motivate people to understand this issue, including why the Geneva Conventions outlaw this practice under international law and why it has been banned by every civilized society for more than 100 years. Attorney General Eric Holder has now appointed a special prosecutor to investigate these illegal and immoral practices. There is pending legislation in Congress to support an inquiry to fully investigate the facts and circumstances that allowed the U.S. government to perform these activities around the world.

This is not a partisan or strictly political issue, but instead primarily a moral and legal one. We do not want a failure of citizens to speak out against this to serve as an implicit endorsement or a "normalization" of torture and other human rights abuses.

Anne Rooney and Richard Means are Oak Park residents and members of the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation.

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This page contains a single entry published on September 22, 2009 9:37 PM.

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