Now it is time to make Obama ensure that "U.S. sponsored torture never happens again." The National Religious Campaign Against Torture needs our help getting the message to the President to create a commission of inquiry. Here is the story:
Harry Belafonte recalled in an interview with Tavis Smiley recently a story he was told by Eleanor Roosevelt. She related a public event when her husband, FDR, introduced Randolph and asked him, Belafonte recalled, "what he thought of the nation, what he thought of the plight of the Negro people and what did he think ... where the nation was headed." Continuing the story, Belafonte recounted what FDR replied upon hearing Randolph's remarks: "You know, Mr. Randolph, I've heard everything you've said tonight, and I couldn't agree with you more. I agree with everything that you've said, including my capacity to be able to right many of these wrongs and to use my power and the bully pulpit. ... But I would ask one thing of you, Mr. Randolph, and that is go out and make me do it."
This story was retold by Obama at a campaign fundraiser in Montclair, N.J., more than a year ago. It was in response to a person asking Obama about finding a just solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. After recounting the Randolph story, Obama said he was just one person, that he couldn't do it alone. Obama's final answer: "Make me do it."
Since January 2006, the more than 250 religious organizations comprising the National Religious Campaign Against Torture have worked together to end U.S.-sponsored torture. During 2008, the religious community advocated for a Presidential Executive Order ending torture. It happened. On January 22, President Obama issued an Executive Order halting torture. Now the task is to make sure that U.S.-sponsored torture never happens again.
To accomplish this goal, our nation needs to put safeguards in place to prevent its recurrence. We will better understand what safeguards are needed if we have a comprehensive understanding of what happened – who was tortured, why they were tortured, and who ordered the torture. As a nation we need the answers to those questions. Therefore, NRCAT is calling for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate U.S. torture policies and practices.
To bolster this call, we are asking you and other people of faith to endorse the statement "U.S.-Sponsored Torture: A Call for a Commission of Inquiry."
NRCAT is also asking religious institutions and organizations to endorse, as well.
As the religious community made a difference in encouraging the President to halt torture, we now must urge our leaders to create a Commission of Inquiry to help ensure that U.S.-sponsored torture never happens again.
Click here for more information about this initiative, including other ways you and your congregation can help to secure a Commission of Inquiry. Since December 2007, NRCAT has also called for criminal investigations.
Click here to read NRCAT's statement calling for a criminal investigation and a letter to Attorney General Holder.
Click here for articles on a Commission of Inquiry and criminal investigations.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been in the forefront against torture. Check Mark Koenig's blog, Swords Into Plowshares for details.