Monday, January 24, 2005

My email to Joe Lieberman

I was going to write on a completely different subject tonight: the issue of race-baiting in social security. That's an important subject, and I will try to post a diary on it tomorrow.

There is a more important subject, however, that I felt needed immediate attention: the full Senate vote on Condoleeza Rice's confirmation. In a last ditch effort to reach the conscience of my elected representative, Joe Lieberman, I sent the following email to him tonight.

Dear Senator Lieberman:

This week is the 60th anniversary of Soviet troops liberating the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. It is also the week the full Senate will vote on whether to confirm Dr. Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State. I've been following Dr. Rice's confirmation hearing with great interest, and I listened to the entirety of her hearing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

It is very important, especially this week in the shadow of Auschwitz, for the United States to unequivocally condemn torture. After listening to Dr. Rice's testimony, I am not convinced that she can effectively do this, and therefore I am asking you to please oppose her nomination for Secretary of State.

What led me to this conclusion was the questioning of Dr. Rice by your Connecticut colleague, Senator Chris Dodd. Senator Dodd gave Dr. Rice a wide opening in his questioning of her, for her to make a strong statement against the use of torture. Dr. Rice was unable to do this. Indeed, she equivocated and drifted into legalese. The following excerpt from her testimony is very telling of what her response to torture very well might be on the international stage:

SEN. DODD: Let me just come back to the point. I just want to make this simple question.

MS. RICE: Yes.

SEN. DODD: Is it your view, as a human matter, that water- boarding and the use, as we saw, in prisons in Iraq of nudity -- is that torture in your personal view, as a nominee here for the --

MS. RICE: Senator, I'm not going to speak to any specific interrogation techniques, but let me talk about Abu Ghraib, because that was not acceptable.

SEN. DODD: I'd like to just get your views on just a simple matter. It's a simple question I'm asking. I'm not --

MS. RICE: Well, you asked me about the incidents in Iraq, and --

SEN. DODD: (Off mike) -- asking about some very specific techniques that were used, whether or not you consider them to be torture or not.

MS. RICE: Senator, the determination of whether interrogation techniques are consistent with our international obligations and American law are made by the Justice Department. I don't want to comment on any specific interrogation techniques. I don't think that would be appropriate, and I think it would not be very good for American security.

Imagine, Senator Lieberman, Dr. Rice attending a memorial to holocaust victims in Israel, where she very well may be asked about the United States' stance on specific torture techniques. Imagine the outrage from the international community if she gave answers similar to the ones she gave Senator Dodd. To equivocate and dissemble on this subject in any venue is unacceptable, but it is even more so from the Secretary of State, who is the face of United States policy.

Please, Senator Lieberman, I am asking you out of respect for those who have died with the words "never again" spoken on their silent lips to vote against Dr. Rice's confirmation. Someone who cannot take a clear moral stand against torture does not deserve to Secretary of State for our country.


I'm asking all my fellow bloggers to support Barbara Boxer's efforts to block Rice's nomination by signing her petition. I'm also asking everyone to contact their Senators - even the Republican ones - and request that they vote against Dr. Rice's nomination.

Those victims of torture who have died or been permanently injured deserve no less a tribute.

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