Thursday, May 14, 2009

A memo to the President about accountability and transparency

The ACLU issued an action alert yesterday evening to ask Americans to demand that President Obama honor the Freedom of Information Act request to release photographic documentation of prisoner abuse and torture. Obama had promised to release those photos, but has now changed his position and sent the issue back to the courts.

Accountability cannot be achieved without transparency. Please email the President and ask to move this issue forward.

Here is what I would want my President to hear:

President Obama:
"Voters do not forget the promises you made on the campaign trail. On the first day in office, you signed an executive order that demanded a greater accountability and transparency in government. It echoed what former Attorney General Janet Reno said about why FOIA requests were important: "In the face of doubt, openness prevails."

"The release of the torture memos was an important first step in living up to the commitment to transparency. Everyone knew about the Bush administration's violation of human rights via the memos' legal justifications for the CIA's torture program.

"The Freedom of Information Act requests to release these photos are essential to ensuring that these atrocities are not repeated. Furthermore, saying that the photos will bring our troops overseas into harm's way is not what the public wants to hear. We know our troops are already in harm's way. A photograph isn't the problem. Torture is the problem. Not holding those who wrote the torture policies or who issued the commands for torture accountable is the problem. Americans voted you into office to stop torture and end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"President Obama: release the photos, bring the troops home and hold decision makers in the Bush administration accountable for their human rights violations and abuses of power." - Stacy Harbaugh, Madison WI