BREAKING: The Daily Universe Sides with the ACLU Against Torture!

The situation with the ACLU demanding investigation into torture of enemy combatants provides this generation with a perfect litmus test to see whether we will hold ourselves up to the inspired principles and beliefs of our founding fathers. We have the choice to become participants in the political process and encourage enforcing those laws or of becoming subject to men, turning our backs without taking proper measure to discover who violated the law and who should be prosecuted for it. -- Michael Edwards, The Daily Universe

I was pleased (and shocked) as punch to read this editorial from the BYU Daily Universe's news editor, Michael Edwards: Torture Revisited: Why the ACLU is right about a torture probe [the subtitle is from the print edition, but doesn't show up online]. Basically the DU agrees with the ACLU that the people in the Bush administration who authorized American torture should actually be held accountable for the laws they broke. Right on!

The main reason I'm writing this post is to encourage members of BYU Amnesty to write in and thank Michael Edwards for writing this excellent editorial, especially as I fear the backlash among torture-defenders who may start writing in to the DU. So write the Daily Universe a letter [email] at letters@byu.edu or just respond with a comment to the online version of the editorial. Rock on, Daily Universe!


BYU Speaks Out:

A Letter Writing Campaign.
Speak for those who can’t speak for themselves!

Each year thousands of pro-democracy advocates (whether political, student, religious, or other in nature) are continually held without trial in poorly maintained prisons by some of the most abusive and totalitarian regimes around the world.
Such persons are referred to as “prisoners of conscience”.

Every month BYU’s Amnesty International club selects one of these nations (our “Country in Focus”) to which we direct our letter writing. Our writing aims to reach five principal audiences (with varying scope):

1. The prisoner of conscience (to support him/her until their release).
2. The family of the prisoner of conscience (to show them our solidarity).
3. The government of the prisoner of conscience (to demand their release).
4. Our political representatives (to ask that our government pressure theirs).
5. Local media outlets (to raise awareness about the issue via editorials).

How to be a part of the action:

1. Read about the “Country in Focus” where freedom is being denied to its people and become knowledgeable about the facts surrounding the issue.

2. Select one of the target audiences above and Write a quick letter using the materials provided at the booth. Some sample letters are available if you’re unsure of what to write, but be sure to put it in your own words. You might decide to send a piece of art, instead, for the children of the prisoner who are often confined to nearby refugee camps.

3. Insert your letter into the amnesty box for Mail when you’re done (this will be semi-permanently located at our booth in the Wilk). All letters will be mailed in bulk to their target audience at the end of each week.

4. Spread the word!


It's Official

When the Bush administration starts admitting it's torture, then it's most definitely torture. The senior Pentagon official in the Bush administration, Susan Crawford, says that the US government's treatment of Mohammed al-Qahtani "met the legal definition of torture." It's a very interesting article, I recommend reading it.

And speaking of recommended reading, I got The Dark Side for Christmas (I love my parents) and it is an amazingly detailed, thorough, and well-written account of the legal and political wranglings behind the United States' decisions to use "enhanced interrogation techniques", perform extraordinary renditions, and operate "black sites" around the world where prisoners are tortured. It's chilling and disheartening, but it's a story that needs to be told. One thing that I found really interesting was the behind-the-scenes look at exactly how Dick Cheney managed to be the most powerful vice president in American history, and how he and his staff were able to prevent any meaningful discussion of our morally dubious methods to combat terrorism even within the Bush cabinet.

I strongly hope that with a new administration we, the American people, can turn a new chapter in our history. Or rather, that we can turn back to the chapter we used to be on; you know, the one about being a moral beacon for the world, liberty and equality for all, etc. It's going to take a lot of work, and I hope you all are committed to doing something, no matter how small, to help out.