Veterans For Peace praises the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence release of their Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program. VFP calls for a full investigation and accountability of officials at the highest levels for the authorizations and execution of torture techniques by the CIA and its international partners. The U.S. Senate report clearly outlines a pattern of systemic denial of human rights and trampling of U.S. values as outlined in the U.S. Constitution and the nation's shared belief in the sanctity and freedom of each man, woman and child. As veterans who took an oath to defend and uphold these values, we are heart broken that senior government officials would lead men and women who look to them for guidance and felt a deep patriotic duty to protect the U.S. down a sordid path of immoral behavior and depraved rationalizations.
We understand that the public outcry following the horrific events of September 11, 2001 put tremendous pressure on both the CIA and the Pentagon to find the perpetrators and protect the people of the U.S. However, the character of a people is best seen when under stress and in danger. It is easy to say what we believe; it is another thing altogether to act on those beliefs in the most difficult times. This report uncovers our modern day equivalent to the WWII Japanese internment camps. The September 11 tragedies, like the bombing of Pearl Harbor, sent the nation into panic and fear. As a result, the worst in the nation’s character of bigotry and paranoia overwhelmed that which most makes us great, our belief in fairness, freedom and justice.
Critics of the report claim its release places people’s lives in danger, but service members’ lives were put in danger by those who designed and authorized policies of torture and indefinite detention. By ignoring accepted standards of prisoner treatment, the U.S. opened the door for rationalization by others to torture U.S. service members. Service members are further put in danger by the failed policies of unending war that have solved nothing, created new challenges and led to more war.
Critics also claim that critical information gained by torture were essential to bringing Osama bin Laden to justice and thus saved lives. The report refutes these claims. However, true or not, the pursuit of justice and security does not excuse the denial of human rights and abhorrent behavior that ignores the ideals the nation claims it holds most dear. The U.S. cannot call itself a champion of human rights and freedom while at the same time trampling those very ideals. The U.S. showed its commitment to our values by examining the horrible period in our history of ethnic Japanese internment, taking responsibility for this injustice and apologizing. We must continue in this tradition of acknowledging our crimes, working to ensure truth and justice prevails and committing to not allowing anything like this to happen again.
Senator Feinstein believes, “America is big enough to admit when it is wrong and confident enough to learn from it mistakes.” Learning does not just happen. We as a nation must be proactive and challenge ourselves to learn. Veterans For Peace will not let the nation forget and we are here to challenge our nation’s addiction to war and acceptance and rationalization of its accompanying evils.