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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 10, 2009 at 2:35 PM

Torture: Should a commission investigate U.S. treatment of war-on-terror prisoners

A call for full accountability

I commend and echo Carla Seaquist’s eloquent guest column [“To reset moral compass on torture, we need both justice and answers,” Opinion, Aug. 9].

Our country will remain in a dangerous moral malaise until we achieve full accountability for government-sponsored crimes against humanity.

I would argue, however, that the model for a commission on torture should not be the 9/11 Commission, which was not independent, did not consider some of the most central questions (such as the destruction of Building 7), and, as later described by one commissioner, was “set up to fail.” We need a truly independent torture commission that will carry out the full investigation.

As to the question of how a significant proportion of Americans can support the unsupportable — torture — the answer is simple: fear. The Bush government paved the way for its torture program with a rein of fear, beginning with the events of 9/11, and was then able to sell to a fearful public its remedies to manufactured terrorism: endless war, domestic spying, and even medieval torture methods. We were sold, with the help of Hollywood, fantasies such as the “ticking time bomb” scenario and that torture is a way to get facts rather than just desperate confessions.

The torture commission should also investigate how fear was used, and is still being used against us.

— Evan A. Sugden, Seattle

Prosecute torture criminals

I totally agree that we must prosecute all the torture criminals, no matter how high up they are.

Thanks for Carla Seaquist’s commentary on this subject. Yes, we must reset our moral compass and return to being the good people that we think we are.

— Cheryl Crist, Olympia

We’ve lost our way

Carla Seaquist’s commentary speaks to my heart. When did we become a nation that tortures? We grew up learning in our history classes that “they” do it, not we Americans. Yet we do exactly what they do, and after the sickening pictures and firsthand accounts I’ve seen of the torturing we’ve done to prisoners, it’s obvious that we do worse.

The world showed it wanted torture stopped by creating the agreements at the Geneva Conventions. We signed the agreement to never again torture. Does that mean nothing to anyone? Have we become a nation who can’t even keep an agreement? People, wake up! Are we letting ourselves believe we are entitled to dishonor our agreements? Are we letting the rest of the world see us as untrustworthy?

We have harmed the souls of generations of people that we have tortured, killed, maimed and done other unjust things to. We are responsible for the harm we have caused other human beings. They writhe in hatred for us. And for what? What have we gained really? The rest of the world and our own souls will hold us accountable. Yet it appears our torturing continues. Is that all right with us?

Please don’t let us torture anymore. Attorney General Eric Holder, President Obama — anyone you can possibly write to — need to know that we know better than to torture. We’ve grown in another, wiser direction. How can we have let torture get this far in this country?

— Linda Andersson, Medina

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