Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Time to Talk Torture

There is one issue that all of the candidates, Republican and Democrat, have left untouched. It's time for the silence to break.

I'm talking about torture.

It's not a hot campaign topic. It ought to be.

It's not easy for a politician to talk about. Leaders, on the other hand, are born out of the effort of learning to say that which is not easy but must be said.

It's not easy for us to hear about. It shouldn't be easy. But, we should listen anyway. Until our candidates speak on the topic, we should listen with great attention to that silence.

Torture is illegal. It has always been illegal in America, forbidden in the United States Constitution. It has long been illegal for Americans to commit torture beyond our borders, with laws explicitly forbidding it. Within the last few months, new laws forbidding acts of torture and torment by the American government anywhere in the world have been put in place.

President George W. Bush has openly declared his belief that none of these legal restrictions apply to him. President Bush has declared that he has the power to torture in spite of the law.

There is a huge, ever-growing mountain of evidence of a vast torture network run by the American government. This evidence has been collected by journalists, the United Nations, humans rights groups, foreign governments, and even the United States government itself. We have photographs, videotapes, and testimony from the tortured and from their American torturers.

It isn't just for the sake of the people being tortured that our congressional candidates must speak to this issue. It is for the sake of the American people as well. The soul of American law and freedom is at stake.

Congress has passed laws on this matter. The President of the United States appears to have purposefully organized programs to break those laws.

The gauntlet has been thrown down by the Bush White House, and now, members of Congress, and candidates for seats in Congress, are duty bound to answer the challenge. Will the Congress allow itself to be made irrelevant? Will the President of the United States be allowed to place himself above the law, in the place of a ruler with absolute power?

Our candiidates will answer these questions.

If they remain silent, their silence will be their answer.

If that is the case, it becomes our duty as citizens, Republican and Democrat, not to share in their silence. It is our duty to make torture and the disintegration of the rule of law an issue...

... even if doing so is inconvenient to the electoral strategy of our favored political party.

Of the many candidates now competing for New York's 24th district seat in the House of Representatives, only one will win. Will at least one of our candidates have the moral courage to value what is right over what is easy?

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