Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Did Your Representative Vote In Favor Of Torture?

On December 14th, 2005, one of our Central Coast congressional representatives voted in favor of torturing "enemy combatants." This was during the series of votes which resulted in Senator John McCain's torture ban agreement. It was successfully attached to a Defense spending bill.

I've never been able to forget this simple fact--a heretofore sane, rational elected representative actually voted in favor of authorizing a US military policy of torturing prisoners, inflicting "inhumane" treatment upon battlefield opponents in custody. Forget any slack for captured US soldiers and allies.

When you sink to the level of the enemy's inhumane treatment of opponents, how can you even think yourself--or your country--has a higher, more noble standard? If you think you're better than "them," should we not have a public policy requiring it?

Fortunately, Senator John McCain won his fight to remove torture as an instrument of US military policy when the 2005 Defense authorization was amended to include a ban on torture.

When political bullsh*t gets this close to home, you know somehow, the wheels have fallen off the track. When I say it's close to home, I mean people living in the same 24th Congressional district as I live in, actually voted for a man who thinks torture is a good thing. And voted to make it public policy.

Because this blog is meant to reflect the three counties of the Central Coast--San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura--I have my attention focused on the congresspeople representing these areas.

Elton Gallegly, in office for more than 20 years--eleven terms!--representing Ventura and Santa Barbara counties is the one in favor of torture, by his own public vote. There is much in his record which shows he has been a benefit to us in California. He says on his own web page, for example, that he's a champion of providing for our nation’s veterans.

As a Vietnam vet myself, I'm all for making good on the promises we make as a country to our young men and women BEFORE they go off to war...and when they come back AFTER they have done their job. (It's that "after" part which lately seems to be getting the short end of the stick.)

But I'll never, NEVER, agree with a vote in favor of torture as public policy for the US military. Observers may say Gallegly is a loyal footsoldier for the Bush administration with lots of votes and evidence to support that claim. I don't recall anytime during his re-election campaign, where Gallegly stated a belief that torture was a legitimate interrogation technique.

So, has it come down to this? A candidate must go on record saying "torture is not acceptable interrogation policy?"

I say it all adds up to another good reason for voter action next election. Make this Elton Gallegly's last term. Get some fresh new blood that can do the right thing, vote for the right things. Someday in the near future we may even be proud again of what Congress may do.

May that day come sooner rather than later!

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