On Wednesday, the United Nations Committee Against Torture began its review of the United States’ record on torture—not only at the infamous Guantánamo Bay but closer to home, in our prisons, police forces, and immigration facilities.
The U.S. delegation acknowledged, “we crossed the line” on torture. Many of us believe that line matters, and that American values and law should define us as a country that stands against torture and cruelty. But as committee member Domah said, even “democratic institutions join forces to frustrate democratic principles.”
It was on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War that, near death and in hospice, Tomas Young sent a “Last Letter” to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Here are some of his searing words from that letter, which, of course, neither the two war criminals nor their taxpayer-funded staff bothered to even acknowledge.
“I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries…I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because…I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.