I'm writing today - and this is the first time I've written such a letter - to express my disappointment in the direction of the administration and the country.
I'm writing this as part of your base, the liberal/progressive wing that thinks that the problem with the health care reform act as it was passed is that it does not include a public option. I'm one of the votes you think you can take for granted. And if you're lucky enough to have Rick Santorum take the Republican nomination, I suppose that's true.
But he won't, so you shouldn't. Here's why:
Throughout the Bush/Cheney Administration, we were faced with the very troubling reality that the United States was systematically engaged in violations of human rights and international treaties, including torture, extra-judicial incarceration and so on. Our hopes in your administration pre-dated the financial crisis, and all that that entailed, and included some things that are far more basic and vital than a mere global financial collapse. They include:
* Abandoning the "War on Terror" rhetoric that does nothing but give our government free license to do anything it wants all over the world while elevating criminals and murderers to the status of "warrior."
* Treating terrorists as the criminals and murderers that they are, and pursuing them through the tools available in the international criminal justice system.
* Closing Guantanamo Bay and all other foreign detention facilities, covert or otherwise, that exist for the purpose of subverting not only international law, but our own laws.
* Ending torture and all other human rights violations.
* Returning our country to the free and open society it should be, under the ethical rule of law.
However, when the Attorney General of the United States proclaims that extra-judicial judgement and assassination constitute "due process," it is clear that our hopes were in vain.
As a lifelong Democrat and progressive, I'm finding it difficult to justify a vote that, in effect, condones this thinking.
Even if we accept that the assassination of any given person is vital to the national security, it is still wrong. It is still counter to the Constitution of the United States, and counter to basic human rights. Even if we are faced with the horrible choice of committing an act like this in violation of everything that is good in order to prevent a greater evil, do not make excuses for it, and for the good of our people, our country and the world, DO NOT make justifications, rationalizations, or legal arguments giving you permission to so so. Because those are things that last a lot longer, and have far more grave consequences, than whatever you were seeking to prevent.
Even if it appears that such an action is absolutely necessary, don't make it "legal," or acceptable, or routine, or normal. Because when that happens, we're no better than Syria.
And we should be.
Thank you for your consideration,
P.S. A copy of this letter is posted at http://brni.kappamaki.com/437871.html ; I will gladly share any response you may wish to send.