Tell the Senate torture is not an American value

Brigadier General Evelyn P. Foote
United States Army (Retired)

I am writing you today to ask you to join me in opposing the nomination of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States, by signing a letter which will be delivered by Veterans for Common Sense to the United States Senate in the coming weeks.

When I served as Commander of the 42d Military Police Group in Germany from July '83 - July '85, I was responsible for executing the group's wartime mission, should the need arise, of collecting and controlling all enemy prisoners of war taken in theatre operations. Inherent in that responsibility was the absolute requirement that the Group, its leaders and its soldiers adhere strictly to the Geneva Convention in safeguarding the rights of American Forces' prisoners of war and in insuring that prisoners were treated humanely and appropriately in all instances.

Sadly, since September 11, 2001, those priorities have been overridden by some people in the administration who believe that in order to fight terrorism, we have to abandon our standards and honor. We have seen an administration work to abandon our international agreements. We have seen an administration twist legal logic in order to redefine torture and try to make it acceptable. And, sadly, we have seen the deaths in custody of prisoners held by U.S. forces.

One of the first responsibilities our forces bear under the Geneva Conventions is the protection of prisoners of war. These rules not only protect enemy prisoners of war, but protect our own troops when they are captured on the battlefield, and provide an international legal framework for punishing those who violate those rules.

The key author of the quasi-legal arguments to define torture and re-classify prisoners of war was White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales. Why do we oppose his nomination?

Mr. Gonzales believes that parts of the Geneva Conventions are "obsolete" and "quant." According to a January 2002 memo to President George Bush, Mr. Gonzales argued, over the objections of Secretary of State Colin Powell, that the United States should not adhere to its requirements under the Geneva conventions because it wasn't practical.

Gonzales approved a Justice Department document which twisted reality by redefining the meaning of the word torture.

Under Gonzales's tenure as White House Counsel, American citizens have been held without trial; without counsel; without the basic Constitutional protections that both the President, and military veterans, swore to defend, in their oaths of office.

According to the news media, Gonzales nomination is expected to sail through the Senate, with only token questioning. We can change that, by making clear our expectation that Gonzales be strongly questioned in his confirmation hearings and that ultimately his candidacy should be rejected.

You can join us, by signing our letter to the U.S. Senate, which will be delivered when confirmation hearings begin to members of the Judiciary Committee, and to the full Senate before his nomination comes up for a vote.

Please join us in telling the Senate that torture is not an American value.


Thank you for your support for our work. Together we can make a difference, and a better future for our country.


Evelyn P. Foote
Brigadier General, United States Army, Retired.


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November 2004

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