Matthew Alexander: A National Hero.

December 1, 2008 at 10:30 am | Posted in torture | Leave a comment
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Scene at Arlington National Cemetery at the burial of returned bodies of the AEF from France, WWI

Scene at Arlington National Cemetery at the burial of returned bodies of the AEF from France, WWI

For 14 years Matthew Alexander (a pseudo- nym) served in the U.S. Air Force. He volunteered to go to Iraq to work as a senior interro- gator, beginning a five-month tour in February 2006. He puts us on notice about what he experienced in an opinion article titled “I’m Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq.”

Mr. Alexander bears witness to the atrocities that are being committed in YOUR name, in your mother’s name, in your father’s name — in your child’s name.

“Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. … It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. … How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me — unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.”

Mr. Alexander refused to use illegal torture against the people he interrogated and refused to permit the people working on his team to do so, although directed to do by his military superiors, including General George Casey. The humane and legal methods of interrogation which Mr. Matthews and his team employed were successful in obtaining actionable information on more than one occasion — something those engaged in illegal torture cannot claim. They do not want you to know because if they were held accountable, they would spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Your Government is counting on you to do nothing.

Mr. Alexander couldn’t do nothing. He wrote a book about his experiences but “Pentagon officials delayed the review past the first printing date and then redacted an extraordinary amount of unclassified material — including passages copied verbatim from the Army’s unclassified Field Manual on interrogations and material vibrantly displayed on the Army’s own Web site.” He had to take the matter to Court.

“Apparently, some members of the military command are not only unconvinced by the arguments against torture; they don’t even want the public to hear them.”

That’s right — YOUR GOVERNMENT doesn’t want YOU to hear what is being done in YOUR NAME, making the world a MORE dangerous place for YOU and your family, your fellow Americans. They do not want you to know because engaging in torture is a criminal act.

I will be ashamed to be an American as long as our Military continues to torture human beings. And I will be afraid.

To paraphrase Thom Hartmann who paraphrased
Friedrich Niemöller,

First my government came for the terrorists, but I was not a terrorist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the enemy combatants, but I was not an enemy combatant, so I did not object. Then they came for the protestors, but I was not a protestor, so I remained silent.

Who will speak out or object when you become the target?

Is this really America?

Is this what we send our young men and women to die for?

Are these values to be protected?

That we as a people allow these atrocious illegal activities, committed in our name, to go unpunished is more than shameful.

It will not matter how successful President Obama is in straightening out the economy or negotiating treaties with other countries or even if Osama Bin Laden is captured during his first term — as long as the people responsible for this regime of terror go unpunished, we will have lost what is most worth having: our basic decency as human beings and our ability to be rightfully proud of our country.

(h/t Political Animal; photograph courtesy of The Library of Congress)

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