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KRISTI McLAUGHLIN: Can't stop terrorism with torture

Kristi McLaughlin, Guest Columnist  The complexities of war are way beyond my comprehension to understand. Humans have been declaring war upon one another since the inception of human life and people across the spectrum of political and religious views hold opinions on how to respond when injustices happen. We are an opinionated people.

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I do not write this letter to debate pacifism or when war is just or necessary. I do not write it to debate America’s involvement in global affairs of seeking justice and/or peace in warring countries.

I do, though, write it as a plea for fair and humane treatment toward those who may be detained and questioned during times of conflict, especially in response to 9/11. I offer you this information:

1) Earlier this year, a non-governmental, bipartisan task force completed a two-year investigation into the U.S. government’s treatment of 9/11 detainees, concluding indisputably that the United States government engaged in illegal torture.

2) Drawing on public records and the task force members’ own interviews with a number of eyewitnesses and involved persons, the report describes in detail numerous examples of torture, including several cases where individuals were literally tortured to death.

3) The report documents how the United States used interrogation techniques on detainees that it had previously condemned as illegal when used by others, including waterboarding, stress positions, extended sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation and prolonged solitary confinement.

While I could go on with additional information, I know the nature of American culture is to access information quickly, thus I will stop there. And quite possibly, in my opinion it is enough. (If you desire more information, I encourage you to access it through the following website: www.nrcat.org/TaskForce.)

Recently on a late-night talk show, the young girl the Taliban sought to kill spoke about her response to the Taliban. Articulate and kind, she made the point that if she responded to the Taliban with violence, then she was no better than the Taliban. The way to peace is through peaceful means.

So I will leave you with this: Torturing people for information makes us no better than those we claim to be “at war” with. We simply become the terrorists we speak so loudly against.

-Rev. Kristi McLaughlin is the pastor of Anew United Church of Christ in Mitchell and a member of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

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