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Kossacks Under 35 is a weekly diary series designed to create a community within DailyKos that focuses on young people. Our overall goals are to work on increasing young voters' Democratic majority, and to raise awareness about issues that particularly affect young people, with a potential eye to policy solutions. Kossacks of all ages are welcome to participate (and do!), but the overall framework of each diary will likely be on or from a younger person's perspective. If you would like more information or want to contribute a diary, please email kath25 at kossacksunder35 (at) gmail dot com

This series has provided us with great information on everyday life decisions to important issues that face many of us under 35 years of age.  In my mind our generation is facing our greatest test the moral direction of our great nation.  Before I get started I am not some traditional values kind of person, I am a liberal Christian that believes our nation has lost its way.  We have lost our morality under the current administration (not saying morals have to come from religion either).

For the last seven years we have been guided by a misguided administration and their denials have finally caught up to them.  I am speaking about torture.  Generations past signed and helped write the Declaration of Human Rights, in fact it was adopted 60 years ago this year by the United Nations.  Now our generation is witnessing it being demolished for the benefit of a few and in the false name of freedom and security.

* Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

* Article 5.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

A few months after he left office President Ronald Reagan, the conservative icon, praised the document:

* "For people of good will around the world, that document is more than just words: It's a global testament of humanity, a standard by which any humble person on Earth can stand in judgement of any government on Earth."

I sit here amazed that I can agree with him on something.  This document truly is a testament for humanity but we have watched it and our bill of rights be demolished.

Bush administration officials from Vice President Dick Cheney on down signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, The Associated Press has learned.

The officials also took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved.
The meetings were held in the White House Situation Room in the years immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks. Attending the sessions were then-Bush aides Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Amnesty International created a video simulating waterboarding (warning graphic) to show just what the administration approved and has been using in violation of our Constitution and international law.  

Disturbing to say the least.  In response to all of this over at Street Prophets and other faith blogs we have started a group entitled NEVER: Torture.  Our first objective is to have former Governor Mike Huckabee denounce the use of torture and refuse to endorse anyone who is for it.  Please feel free to sign the petition.

When it comes to Religious Right leaders we would like to see an unequivocal stance against torture much like the progressive Democratic candidate in Virginia's 5th District Tom Perriello had to say who has been a longtime advocate for human rights.  

Q: In 2004 as co-director of Faithful America you aired commercials on al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya featuring prominent religious leaders apologizing for the treatment of prisoners in Abu-Gharib. Why did you feel that was necessary to come from religious leaders and should they be apologizing for actions taken by military officials?

A: Torture is immoral and, in my reading, an act of blasphemy against the image of God in another human being. When our leaders make the decision to condone torture, something powerful in the soul of our country is suffocated.

Torture also undermines our national security, produces bad intelligence, and puts our troops at risk. The images from Abu Ghraib became powerful propaganda weapons for Osama Bin Laden to use in recruiting a new generation of terrorists to threaten our great nation. Terrorism is fundamentally immoral and a grave threat to our country, and one purpose of our ad was to blunt the recruiting bonanza that Bush handed to Al Qaeda in the wake of those images. One of the many things this Administration has never understood about the threats we face is how to fight back successfully against their propaganda battle. I am proud that we were able to produce an ad that spoke to America’s highest principles and helped make us safer at the same time.

As for whether one can ethically apologize for someone else’s actions, the theologians and faith leaders involved in this ad were careful to make it an expression of regret, and not an apology in order to clarify the lines of culpability. Our great nation could use a boost of people taking personal responsibility seriously, so it is distressing to see this Administration refuse to step up to the plate. In the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal, it has repeatedly had our men and women in uniform take the blame without taking its own responsibility for this disaster. The religious leaders in our ad exemplified what moral leadership looks like.

His answer spoke to his faith reasons as well as reasons pertaining to national security.  Either are fantastic stances to take on torture.  Candidates across the country should be able to pick up on these points and use them as they see fit.  Just one reason why Perriello is a great candidate but I digress.

But it goes beyond waterboarding.  Today out of Britain we learned this:

The U.S. government has photographic evidence that a Guantanamo Bay inmate was tortured with a knife after being taken to Morocco by U.S. forces, a British human rights group said Tuesday. Reprieve said their client, Binyam Mohamed, had his genitals slashed repeatedly with a doctor's scalpel while in custody in Morocco after he was flown there from Pakistan by American officials in 2002. It also said his U.S. captors later took pictures of the abuse to show authorities that his wounds were healing.

I cringe just thinking of it.

Our generation must stand up for human rights everywhere but it must start with our own elected leaders and those campaigning as well.  I encourage you to ask both the Democratic and Republican candidates in your districts and states where they stand on torture.  This should not and cannot be a position based upon party but if they want to be labeled as a party that supports torturing other humans then Republicans can have fun with that label and losing in 2008.

Now it is time to turn it over to you. What other campaigns are you seeing for our generation to get involved in surrounding the issue of torture?

Originally posted to Aaron Krager on Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 06:13 PM PDT.

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