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Stephen King challenges Obama on Torture Investigation

July 16, 2009

Pen vs. Sword Dept:

stephenking Alice Walker, Stephen King, and Ariel Dorfman are among 10 writers, celebrities, activists and torture survivors calling on President Barack Obama to look into how torture became official U.S policy during the Bush administration. Part of Amnesty International’s “Ten Against Torture” campaign, each one has written a personal letter asking that Obama direct Attorney General Eric Holder to open a criminal investigation.

“We did things in the heat of our outrage that must not be repeated,” writes King. “We allowed frightened leaders to commit acts that will come back to haunt us if they are not examined. Until this boil of secrecy is lanced, the infection will remain. And the only thing infections do is spread and become worse. Please help the country by authorizing an examination of what went wrong, how it happened, and who was responsible. Then and only then can we move on.”

The other writers are Sister Dianna Ortiz, a torture survivor and activist; Matthew Alexander, former senior U.S. interrogator in Iraq; Juma Al Dossari, a former detainee who describes his abuse at Guatanamo; actor Martin Sheen; Don Goodrich, whose son died in 9-11; Malcolm W. Nance, a Navy counter-intelligence specialist and combat veteran; and Tom Parker, a former MI5 agent who now serves as Amnesty International USA policy director for Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism.

“As Americans, we have a unique advantage in this conflict against Al Qaeda: our culture,” writes Alexander, author of How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, To Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq. “It is a culture we can leverage, based on tolerance, cultural understanding, intellect, and integrity. There is no need for torture and abuse.”

Amnesty International, which says Obama reads 10 hand-picked letters each day “to get a glimpse of what’s on people’s minds and in their hearts,” is hoping people will select one of the 10 letters to forward to the president. You can read the letters at “Ten Against Torture.

And what do you think? Did harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding constitute torture? Is America ever justified in using torture to obtain information that may save lives? Should the president establish a truth commission? Should those who authorized and engaged in harsh interrogations be investigated and subject to criminal charges?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2009 11:56 am

    How powerful that authors lend their voices to this terrible problem. As an American, I have been proud (in the past) of the fact that we did not torture our enemies. I just hope we can investigate, find out what happened and why and get back to a better way to interrogate prisoners. I’m hoping President Obama reads the letters and responds, decisively.

  2. July 18, 2009 12:27 am

    The torture issue continues to tarnish the perception of the US in the eyes of the rest of the world. I hope this group succeeds in its objective so everyone can put that ugly interval behind and move forward.

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