Email of the Day

A reader writes:

In June, I attended the World Cup in Germany. While there, I visited Dachau. This experience inspired me to send a postcard from the torture museum to my senators. My message was simple: Do not allow the torture of human beings in the name of the United States.

Today I received a letter from Senator Orrin Hatch, who writes that "the Bush Administration acted in good faith on this issue." Regarding the McCain Amendment, Sen. Hatch states that he supported Vice President Cheney's efforts to gut the amendment because Hatch had "some reservations" even though the amendment would only prohibit the American government from exposing any human being in the custody of the United States to "cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment."

Senator Hatch agrees that our military should be bound by the Geneva Convention and should not use interrogations techniques other than those in the Army Field Manual. But Sen. Hatch draws a distinction between our military and our "intelligence agencies."

Sen. Hatch explains that his reservations emerged from his belief that our intelligence agencies "require more flexibility." Sen Hatch hastens to add that this "flexibility" extends only so far as "[the] techniques [used by intelligence interrogators] do not include torture." This can only mean that Sen. Hatch does not define torture as "cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment." As a result, the ranking majority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee would seem to be on record as supporting "cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment" of human beings so long as the treatment does not fall within his undefined concept of torture.

I have an uncle who serves in the Navy, and my brother serves in the Army and will probably be sent to Iraq within a year. If either were to fall into enemy hands, I would hope and pray for (but probably not expect) humane treatment. I cannot in good conscience expect our nation to fall short of how I would hope my family would be treated.

Senator Hatch suggests that this is "a tremendously complicated" matter.  It is not. Torture is wrong.

It's amazing that a president who claims to see the world in black and white, and good and evil, sees the question of torture as one full of gray. It speaks volumes. And it behooves us to remember that this was a man who once made jokes about a woman whom his signature had already sentenced to death.