Apr 6, VCS Weekly Update: VCS Supports ‘Truth Commission’ as Part of Ending Torture Era

Dear VCS Supporters:

We have great news! Veterans for Common Sense plans to present our new web site to you later this month.

We are also growing – VCS now has offices in both Washington, DC, and Austin, Texas. In the past year, Veterans for Common Sense has been mentioned or quoted in more than 300 news articles.

Before we get to this week’s update on torture, here’s what VCS was doing while our e-mail system was broken.

On February 9, 2009, VCS released our ground-breaking report about challenges facing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), “Looking Forward: The Status and Future of VA.” The newspaper Army Times wrote about our report.

On March 10, 2009, VCS testified before Congress about VA’s 2010 budget. We salute President Obama for his impressive $15 billion increase in VA spending on the needs of all our veterans and their families.

On March 24, 2009, we submitted a statement for the record about the need for Congress to streamline how VA processes disability claims for post traumatic stress disorder.

Yes, we are very busy, and we apologize that our web site has had problems the past two months.

This week’s issue update focuses on the brutal, barbaric, and illegal torture ordered by the recently departed Bush Administration. Veterans for Common Sense condemns torture by anyone anywhere.

VCS believes the new Obama Administration must determine the facts and get to the bottom of this terrible torture scandal. Once the facts are known, then we must hold accountable those who broke the law and harmed human beings.

VCS strongly supports Senator Leahy’s efforts to form a “Truth Commission.” As Senator Leahy eloquently said, “For much of this decade, we have read about and witnessed such abuses as the scandal at Abu Ghraib, the disclosure of torture memos and the revelations about the warrantless surveillance of Americans.”

We must end the human right abuses and return to our values and to the rule of law. No U.S. President is ever crowned King and placed above the law.

VCS remains a leading national voice pushing for an end to illegal torture policies since October 2003 when VCS filed a law suit against the Defense Department to release secret torture documents. Our lawsuit, filed with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and Veterans for Peace (VFP), was responsible for many revelations about secret Bush Administration documents ordering torture.

Your contributions allow us to continue our historic work and stand as a watchdog over American rights and America’s veterans. Please make a gift to VCS today so we can continue this essential work protecting all of our civil liberties. Our goal is to raise $10,000 in April so we keep working on the issues you care about.

VCS believes the healing of our Nation should be a two-step process. First, we must investigate what happened to determine the facts about torture, extraordinary rendition, and Guantanamo Bay. The Truth Commission is an opportunity for people to come forward to say what they know and produce documents for possible amnesty, modeled on the South African Truth Commissions that dismantled apartheid.

Second, if a non-partisan investigation with power to compel the testimony of witnesses and the production of government documents, reveals evidence someone broke the law, then each individual responsible should be held accountable, up to and including prosecution for war crimes. Each person indicted for criminal activity must be given due process and their day in fair and public court, based on the historical Nuremberg Trials after World War II.

With a transparent two-step process, Americans can begin moving forward and out of the dark ages that undermined our freedoms for years. We must also make sure no future administration dares to violate national and international law by torturing human beings. We encourage Senator Leahy to press forward with obtaining broad bi-partisan support for his plan to form a “Truth Commission.”

Veterans for Common Sense wants to thank all of our members for their strong support. We are only as powerful as our members, and would not be able to continue this work without you. Please take the time to make a donation today. Our goal for April 2009 is to raise $10,000 to continue making a progressive difference in the issues you care about, especially in the media and in front of Congress.

Thank you,

Paul Sullivan
Executive Director
Veterans for Common Sense

VCS provides advocacy and publicity for issues related to veterans, national security, and civil liberties. VCS is registered with the IRS as a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity, and donations are tax deductible.

VCS needs your assistance. If you want to help VCS on our core issues, then please click here. Your contribution is tax deductible.

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