Two recent Nation offerings have brought in huge amounts of mail: Elizabeth Holtzman’s “The Impeachment of George W. Bush” [Jan. 30], about which mail continues to come in, and “The Torture Complex” [Dec. 26], our year-end special issue. –The Editors
IMPEACHMENT IN THE AIR
Re: “The Impeachment of George W. Bush”: Bring it on!
Mountain View, Calif.
I strongly support Elizabeth Holtzman’s call for impeachment. I am only surprised that her list of offenses did not include the illegal detainment of American citizens.
Elizabeth Holtzman nailed it, with this exception: The most egregious example of George W. Bush’s “reckless indifference to his obligation to execute the laws faithfully” is his “signing statements,” by which he usurps the power of the judicial branch (by pretending to “construe” the law) and the legislative branch (by asserting the inherent power to disregard statutes like FISA–which expressly limit executive action).
D. LAWRENCE OLSTAD
Miami Beach, Fla.
At last, a Nation cover that cheers me up! But Elizabeth Holtzman leaves out one crucial point: Yes, the nation felt relieved when Nixon stepped down, but we were then left with President Ford, an altogether decent guy. If Bush leaves office, we get… President Cheney. If he serves less than two years of an unfinished term, he can run for election twice. New battle cry: “Impeach Cheney First!”
Forget Impeachment! You don’t really want Darth Vader Cheney in the White House or Dr. Stangelove Rumsfeld. I am an old FDR Democrat who voted for W in 2000 because the Clintons had pushed liberalism into libertinism. However, these resurgent Republicans can win elections, but they cannot govern. Look at W’s folly in Iraq and his tax cuts for the Haves and Have Mores, which are putting us in hock big time to China and foreign banks. This is not healthy for our beloved country.
World War II Vet, Patton’s 3rd Army
Elizabeth Holtzman’s article is thorough, compelling and so glaringly truthful and fact-filled that it makes me wonder if most of America is asleep. Can the ultra-conservatives be so obsessed with turning America backward with a stacked judiciary, Congress and executive that they turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the criminal abuses of their leadership?
Elizabeth Holtzman deserves applause for pointing out that the Constitution makes the President the Commander in Chief only of the armed services, a distinction that I almost never hear made, even by lawyers and lawmakers. (As a US historian, such ignorance drives me nuts.) There is no such thing as a Commander in Chief of the American people, and the obligation to protect them is shared by all branches of government.
BERNARD A. WEISBERGER
West Greenwich, RI
Former Marine officer Carl Sheeler is running as a Democrat for the US Senate. We have put up a billboard south of Providence calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush (see www.carlsheeler.com).
I was a 2004 GOP candidate for Congress and a true conservative. But I have signed a petition to impeach Bush (see www.thefreedomfarm.com). Liberty or bust!
On February 2 Plattsburgh city councilors took up a resolution calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush. The issue brought an unusually large crowd to City Hall, and many people spoke. The councilors finally voted 3 to 2 against the resolution.
‘WE DO NOT TORTURE’?
As someone who has been associated with survivors of torture for the past eight years, I thank you for the valuable exploration of torture in your special issue “The Torture Complex.” If our nation is to merit some sort of reputation for basic human decency, we must do something we have failed to do in the past–we must demand that impunity be brought to an end. Our leaders–including Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush himself–must be investigated and, if warranted (as I expect it would be), prosecuted for the torture they have ordered. (Indeed, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton could well be added to the list.) Congress seems determined to avoid any serious investigation, and action from an Attorney General would require the appointment of someone of moral integrity. Thus, the threat of prosecution must follow these people after they leave office. We must also do whatever we can to assure that other governments will arrest all those involved in torture if they set foot on their soil. It is my hope to see the day when those mentioned above, war criminals in my estimation, are sent to prison and we finally begin to live by the words George W. Bush spoke so hypocritically: “We do not torture.”
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC)
Thank you for the special issue on torture. It ruined my day, as well it should have, and gave me new information. I can only hope that it will bring many other Americans to confront the horrors that are being carried out in their name and to demand an end to them and a full accounting from those who carry out, condone, plan or justify torture.
America is not indifferent to what is being done in our name, as any poll worth its salt shows. However, our government, from the Supreme Court on down, is no longer accountable to us. We are ruled by a military-industrial greed machine. Those waging war enjoy it. It fills their pockets, and it’s a lot more fun than Xbox. Short of mass armed revolution, there is little the morally outraged can do. We are not represented in Congress. Those who pretend that killing is not murder, unless it’s the death of an embryo or a brain-dead woman, aren’t the ones pulling the triggers–they are the ones reaping the dollars.
The answer to the question “Why do human beings torture other human beings?” is simple. They enjoy it. No law, no summit meeting, no Congressional bill, no international agreement will ever change this basic fact.
If a person is known by the company he keeps, Bush, Cheney et al. are members of a pretty distinguished group that includes Attila the Hun, Clovis I, Genghis Khan, Ivan the Terrible, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. What’s really scary is that more than a few Americans think that’s OK.
FORREST G. WOOD
While the silence of the American Medical Association on the subject of physician participation in torture is shocking, it is hardly surprising. After all, the AMA is equally silent on physician participation in lethal injection executions. The AMA’s prohibitions against participation in capital punishment are quite specific but are buried deep in its website in “Opinion E-2.06” of the AMA’s code of medical ethics. The AMA sends its members information about “liability reform” and “medicare physician payment reform,” but I have yet to receive an AMA alert asking me to stay away from the death chamber.
JONATHAN I. GRONER, MD
Exposure to very loud music does more than produce psychological damage and cultural dissonance. Two physical effects can ensue: (a) loss of auditory acuity, with possible eventual premature deafness with attendant disability; and (b) a significant proportion of those exposed will develop carterial hypertension, with possible eventual complications such as heart attacks or strokes. Thus, this method of torture can be grouped with others that produce physical damage but leave no immediate telltale marks.
WILLIAM MORTON, MD
I wonder whether the musicians whose works were blared at prisoners could sue the government for illegal use of their copyrighted songs. I encourage Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against the Machine and Eminem, all known to be critical of the Bush Administration, to bring suit and to donate whatever they are awarded to a human rights organization.
Pope Innocent IV, who in 1252 extended the practice of civil courts to the Inquisition, insisted that torture could only be done citra disminutionem membri–without breaking limbs. It was, as Michel Foucault noted, a regulated practice for which public records were kept. We rightly regard this with horror, but in our own time there are apparently no limits to a practice that we pretend does not exist.
The Golden Rule: Do unto your prisoners as you would have your captors do unto you. If I were again in military service, I would worry about becoming a prisoner when my government has a policy that promotes torture.
BERTRAM G. MURRAY JR.