Torture: Who Cares?

Twenty-two days have passed since the Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee released its five-hundred twenty-five -page executive summary of its report on the CIA’s use of torture following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. On December 21, The New York Times called for a criminal investigation that – in order to be credible – “should include former Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr.Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington; the former C.I.A. director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who drafted what became known as the torture memos”; among the “many more names that could be considered” are “Jose Rodriguez, Jr., the C.I.A. official who ordered the destruction of the videotapes; the psychologists who devised the torture regimen; and the C.I.A. employees who carried out that regimen.” On December 22, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling for an investigation of “serious federal crimes, including torture, conspiracy, sexual assault, and homicide, and [to prosecute where appropriate.”

The “Justice” Department has not responded. The Obama Administration seems to be sticking to its policy of “looking forward not backward,” perhaps unwilling to open the Pandora’s box of holding previous administrations accountable for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Equally silent is the “progressive” branch of American Christianity.

In a post on the “God’s Politics” blog at Sojourners Magazine ( December 16, 2014), Derek Flood pointed out that “The typical response among conservative Christians is to seek to justify violence as good in an attempt to defend the Bible. This tendency to defend violence becomes especially relevant in the wake of the Senate report on the CIA’s use of torture. While the report was met with shock and outrage in some quarters, it was also defended by a good number of conservative Evangelical Christians. In fact, a 2009 Pew Research poll found that 6-in-10 white Evangelicals support the government’s use of torture.”

Where are the liberals – including Unitarian Universalists, whether “Christian” or not?

Websites for the United Church of Christ, the United Methodists, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Baptist Joint Committee all have pages devoted to social, economic, and environmental justice. All are involved with racial issues, gun control, LGBTQ equality, but none – other than the theologically liberal and socially conservative Sojourners, led by social justice activist Jim Wallis – seems to be considering seriously the effect of violence and torture on the spiritual well-being and integrity of American society.

Perhaps they [we] are all waiting for the “Justice” Department to take action. Eric Holder has one more day to do something. What if he doesn’t?

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