My Weekly Torture Letter

As promised last week, I will be posting my weekly letters to my Congressfolk, President Obama, and the United Nations. Here are this week's letters (feel free to copy and paste in your own missives, and strap yourselves in -- I will be posting every week until something gives).

To my Senators and House Reps (you can find all your congressfolk's information HERE):
Sent to Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, and Norm Dicks.

Dear [name]:

I have voted for you in every election since I moved to Washington State in 2000.

I am writing to ask you – to plead with you – to do everything you can to push for investigation of the torture of human beings authorized by, and implemented under, the Bush/Cheney administration.

I am 52 years old. I’ve lived through assassinations and wars, Watergate and Iran Contra, recessions and bubbles burst, and if you had told me there would come a day when my federal government would authorize torture in violation of its own laws and international treaty, and then neglect to investigate it, I would not have believed you.

I find it incredibly disheartening that this letter even needs to be written, but write it, I shall.

I have heard the rhetoric about wanting to move forward rather than look back, but it rings hollow to me – the mandate that the people of these United States sent in electing President Obama and a Democratic Party majority in the Congress was a clear cry for change. Even Republican officials have distanced themselves from the disastrous policies implemented by the Bush/Cheney administration – policies that have left our nation physically, financially, and morally bankrupt.

When you’ve been through a horrible battle and it’s clear that one of the principal players in your contingent has been dreadfully wounded, you do not just march on. You stop, examine their wounds, and tend to them.

In my opinion, the other wounds to our Constitution (wire-tapping, undeclared wars instigated on the basis of faulty intelligence, etc.) -- themselves no small injuries -- pale in comparison to the authorization of State-sponsored torture.

If we can stand by while people are tortured by our government, if we can know that such a thing occurred, and refuse to even investigate it, I believe that we are not a nation which has established Justice, or secured the Blessings of Liberty -- and with every report released about how the actions of the previous administration has served as a recruitment tool for those who wish to commit violence against the US and its citizens, it becomes clearer and clearer that, far from insuring domestic Tranquility and providing for the common defence, the use of torture has put both our physical safety and international standing at risk.

I will not stand by silently as my government violates law, treaty, the principles of its own Constitution, and basic human rights.

I will be writing to your office every week until investigations into torture are initiated by our federal government – even if this takes years or decades. I will speak to others and encourage them to do the same. I will blog about it and email about it. I will send letters to the United Nations asking them to enforce the Convention Against Torture, to which my country is a signatory, and in which, we have agreed to investigate these matters.

I believe that you know, deep in your heart, that we must investigate these matters, if we are to be who we say we are – a nation committed to justice, democracy, and freedom. I will speak to you, again and again, as an echo of that knowing, and I will support you, and call for others to support you, when you take action on that knowing.

I implore you, as a constituent and a fellow US citizen, to do everything you can to initiate immediate investigations of torture perpetrated by the United States government during the Bush/Cheney administration.


Same to President Obama, with a few changes (highlighted in blue):
Dear President Obama:

I voted for you, primarily because I recognized that my country was in need of transformation, and I believed that you were earnest in your promise to protect and defend our Constitution.

I am writing to ask you . . . . .
. . . . ., but write it, I shall.

I have heard in your speeches that you have a desire move forward rather than look back, but it rings hollow to me . . . . (all remaining the same).

Finally, to the United Nations:
His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon
Secretary-General of the United Nations
New York, New York 10017

Dear Secretary-General,

I am a United States citizen, appealing to you to enforce the articles of the UN Convention Against Torture in the matter of torture perpetrated under the presidential administration of George W. Bush.

I had hoped that, with a new president leading our nation, my country would at last be brought back into compliance with the Convention, but as of this date, no investigative action has been initiated by my government, even though the Convention clearly states that States who agree to the Convention are required to begin prompt and impartial investigation whenever there is a reasonable suspicion that torture has been performed.

It is clear now that such suspicion not only exists, but that a majority of United States citizens believe that torture has been performed on prisoners interrogated by our government. Even if these citizens believe that this torture was somehow justified, as officials of the Bush administration have claimed, the articles of the Convention are clear – war, threat of war, political instability or any emergency is not a justification for torture.

I believe that the UN must take action, since it seems apparent at this point that the President and Congress are not hastening toward the prompt and impartial investigations which they have agreed to perform.

I believe that my government is in violation of both its own laws and its international agreements.

I implore you to make good on the Articles of the Convention Against Torture.
Here's hoping it does some good.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 10:09 AM  


Anonymous said... May 27, 2009 at 11:58 AM  

If we're calling for investigation, let's not forget Congress, eh! They always seem to get a free pass...

PortlyDyke said... May 27, 2009 at 12:05 PM  

What are you on about? I'm calling for full investigations of everyone who was involved.

Christina said... May 31, 2009 at 12:28 AM  

Meh. Anonymous. Therefore, ignorable.

Anyway, I wanted to ask you if you found an e-mail address for your letter to the UN. I've been looking for one and can't find it. I'll do it the old fashioned way if I must but I'd like to save trees if at all possible.

I wrote one for my 'critters since I did not, in fact, vote for them and posted it at my place for those like me who are living in the land of "not by my vote".

PortlyDyke said... May 31, 2009 at 7:16 AM  

Christina -- There are email addresses for the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights at this link:

I think the "General Inquiries" address should do -- I plan to email them and ask if that's the right email address -- I'll post in this thread if there's a better email for direct letters to the Commissioner

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