Of Torture, Pardons and Amnesty
by Jeff Siddiqui
On August 11, 2009 I read an article “2 U.S. Architects of Harsh Tactics in 9/11’s Wake” by Scott Shane ( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/12/us/12psychs.html?_r=1 ) in the New York Times, that ripped the scabs off old wounds and brought to the surface, my growing anger at the lack of concern for justice or moral standards, by our new Obama Administration.
As in other, past articles covering torture by the United States, this one was filled with information as to how atrocities were designed and committed by our people, but there were no mentions of any action against the perpetrators, no call for justice.
We the people of this, potentially greatest nation on Earth, have failed at so many moral levels that we are now put to shame by even mediocre, third-world countries.
As many Muslims in America see it, our political leaders have spouted so much hate towards Islam and Muslims for so long, that it is now a mark of patriotism to hate us Muslims and it is a mark of resolute leadership to target and attack Muslims and to violently suppress Islam.
In this “WAR!” on “terror”, we have forged new ways to terrorize and kill Muslims and simultaneously, we have implemented practices that are clearly torture under international Geneva Conventions Against Torture (http://www.hrweb.org/legal/cat.html) while re-classifying them as “not torture”.
Our public remained and still remains, “patriotically” silent in the face of false-“WAR!” declared internally as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan…millions have been killed, but we are still seeking vengeance for the 3000 (Americans and others) killed here on 9/11.
Our ever-ethical American Medical Association that has discovered such a loud voice against Obama’s health insurance plans, lost its voice and its Hippocratic Oath as it took no action at all, against the doctors who advised, supported and participated in the torture of Muslims in this country and outside, as well as in “ghost” prisons under US control.
Our so-ethical American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association are trying to out-do other organizations in their own show of “patriotism” by maintaining their cowardly silence against the activities of their members involved in torture.
Would any of these organizations remain silent in the face of organized rape of patients supervised by health-care practitioners?
Today, our politicians wax eloquent against torture, but propose nothing against it. Even our President is “inclined to look forward, not backwards” and why not? “looking backwards” is seen as unpatriotic and weak, while “Patriotism” is lucrative; brutal patriotism is really admired in our “land of the brave” and our elections are always just around the corner.
Our leaders are now trying to grant amnesties to people involved in different aspects of torture of Muslims by the US but most Muslims and other Americans of good will, are not in favor of amnesties. Muslims see “Pardon” as forgiveness after the fact, while “Amnesty” suggests there was no wrong-doing recognized.
Muslims would support a broad pardon for ALL acts of torture…as long as the forgiven acts are solely those that are admitted to, in writing by the perpetrators.
We could allow a six-month period so people seeking pardons can put their acts in writing, with details. These confessions may, at the discretion of an appointed board, remain classified for as long as thirty years, but at least we would have a full record for history and later review.
South Africa has gone through a similar process, as have other African nations like Rwanda and some countries in South America. The US must not stand aloof, above the courts of international justice.