Sunday, December 28, 2008

You GO, Girl!

I moseyed over to one of my senator's web sites yesterday afternoon. I generally check to see what Barbara Boxer is up to because it always cheers me up. This time was no exception. I found a letter she'd sent to the incoming Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. John Kerry. After congratulating him on the chairmanship, she had a request for him. Here's some of that letter:

I write today to raise an issue of the utmost significance -- the Administration’s use of torture against detainees held in U.S. custody. Despite widespread condemnation from Members of Congress, policy experts, and human rights advocates, Vice President Richard Cheney stated in a recent interview with ABC News that the torture policies used against detainees were appropriate and admitted that he played a role in their authorization. In fact, when asked if any of the tactics -- including waterboarding -- went too far, he responded with a curt “I don’t.”

I find Vice President Cheney’s response deplorable, particularly in light of a recent report released by the Senate Armed Services Committee following an eighteen-month investigation. In sum, the bipartisan report found that “senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.” The report, led by Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, concluded that “those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority.” I fully support Chairman Levin’s proposal for an outside Commission with subpoena power to investigate this matter further.

In light of this report and Vice President Cheney’s admission that torture was approved at the highest levels, I ask that you hold a hearing on the use of torture and its impact on U.S. moral standing in the world. The last eight years have been a dark chapter for U.S. global leadership and have left a deep stain on our moral authority. Now is the time to send a clear and unequivocal sign that we completely reject torture, that we respect the rule of law, and that America will once again lead on human rights through the power of our example.
[Emphasis added]

Both are excellent ideas, but I'm not certain that they go far enough. I fired off an email to her asking her to take the next logical step, to demand an independent prosecutor be appointed to conduct that investigation. The important thing, however, is that one of our senators is willing to move in this direction. Keep in mind, moreover, that Sen. Boxer is coming up for re-election in 2010, a fact that was noted by another California blogger, D-Day:

This is one step away from the needed call for an independent prosecutor to investigate Bush's war crimes, but it's as close as any Senator has been willing to go. This suggests that Boxer considers an investigation of this nature to not only be the right thing to do in a democracy, but not electorally damaging whatsoever. She should be supported in this belief and encouraged to go even further. I know that Senator Boxer has begun asking for contributions to her re-election campaign. Maybe a series of contributions of $9.12, signaling support for a "9/12" torture commission and an independent prosecutor, along with emails and letters explaining this, would relay the message? [Emphasis added]

And that's a pretty good idea as well.

Take it and run, folks. It's our turn.

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