Thursday, September 28, 2006

As you all might have heard, liberal favorite John McCain has reached a compromise with the Bush Administration on the interpretation of Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. This “compromise” represents a capitulation on all fronts by Senator McCain, who is trying to maintain his viability as a Presidential hopeful amongst the far right, who are adamantly and disgustingly pro-torture.

You can read the “compromise” here. It would allow waterboarding, hypothermia treatment, and (let’s be honest) outright murder of prisoners, putting the United States in the same company as Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Soviet Russia. Worse, it gives the President power to issue “authoritative interpretations” of treaty obligations in the Federal Register. Worse still, the bill allows the president to define “enemy combatant” as anyone “who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities,” a definition vague and broad enough to include everyone you know.

Despite the disclaiming anti-war slogan “Not In Our Name,” the fact remains that every US citizen is stained by the conduct of the war on terror, and as taxpayers, share responsibility and blame. Please contact every member of the Washington State delegation to register your opposition to HR 6054, Military Commission Act of 2006, as well as torture in general (contact info can be found here). Usually, it is best to send mail, but Congress is trying to rush a vote through before Congress recesses on Friday, so this can be over and settled before the elections. So, send your emails and faxes today.

The Republicans in the House aren’t going to care, but they still need to hear from us. The Democrats need to be urged to take leadership – or even a position – on this crucial issue that affects all of us.

This is the letter I sent (I left out the second paragraph for the Senators and Jim McDermott, who is my district rep):

I am writing to strongly urge you to vote to reject the HR6054, The Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Although I am not a resident of your district, and the issue hasn't even reached the House yet, I feel this is important enough to contact you immediately, in the hope you will speak out now, and will vote against any attempt to legalize torture and secret prisons when the time comes.

Please do not allow your colleagues to rush through this ill-considered bill to allow torture and secret prisons, and please vote against any legislation that incorporates the Bush Administration proposals. Even if you feel that torture represents an American value and a necessary tool in the War on Terror, surely you would agree that the issue requires a full and sober debate, one that should not be tabled as an expedient prior to the Fall elections.

I urge you to join with the former military leaders and retired judges who are speaking out against torture and secret prisons. Congress should not undermine the internationally accepted standards for treatment of prisoners articulated in the Geneva Conventions.

The brutal, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners undermines U.S. security and violates the principles on which this country was founded. Civilized nations agree that these techniques are immoral, and, according to military leaders, do not lead to accurate intelligence information. The humane treatment of war prisoners has been a principal of the United States since the founding of our country, and remains the right, principled and Christian way.

As a constituent and an American, I would greatly appreciate if you and your fellow Democrats showed leadership on this issue above and beyond casting your dissenting votes. This is an issue too important to remain silent on. Far too many Americans appear willing to trade away our cherished rights, principles and traditions, and I feel the Americans who oppose torture are not being given a voice -- and a brave, loud voice is what is needed.

Please vote against The Military Commissions Act of 2006, and all attempts to amend our laws to allow torture.

Thank you for your time.

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