End the silence on torture
The sacrifice of the heroes of 9/11 must not be used as a justification for torture
Just for a moment, remember where you were on that fearful morning and the fear you felt and think what these individuals were doing at that very exact moment. Yet the story of these individuals who emanated everything great about mankind has been tragically hijacked by those dark forces of mankind, those who took the sacrifice of these people and repeatedly used it as an excuse for the justification of torture. These men did not give their lives so that people could torture in the name of political ends.
The discussion of whether the U.S. government tortured or not is now moot. President Obama has stated that it did. The debate should not be one of silence. Where were those who protested outside the British Embassy in 1971 when Irish men were interned without charge or trial, when the same thing was happening in Guantánamo? Where were those who protested that Irish prisoners were being hooded, sleep deprived and subjected to white noise techniques and beaten in interrogation centers throughout Northern Ireland, when the recently released torture memos shows that the U.S. government authorized the same techniques? Where are those who said that Diplock courts with no jury in Northern Ireland was in breach of international law? And those who protested that the only evidence used to convict individuals wereconfessions beaten from people in Northern Ireland and English police stations? Where are those who protested that the case of the Birmingham Six and my own case, the Guildford Four, were show trials and an assault against all concepts of juris prudence? Where are those who protested the British Prevention of Terrorism Act, under which I was the first person arrested and spent the next fifteen years innocent in prison, as racist because it only applied to Irish people?
Where are the protesters when we need them today?
The Irish in America probably know more than any other group that Draconian laws do not work. Nor have we forgotten our history, that which defined us. Or in the cold light of day were afraid to speak. Fear did not hinder us when it happened to our own. And fear did not hinder the finest from our race who stared it in the face and marched towards it. These men were not quiet on the morning of September 11 and their sacrifice should not be used, and their memory besmirched, as a justification for torture.
Paul Hill was one of the Guildford Four. He spent over 15 years in British jails for a crime that he and the others charged with him did not commit – the bombing of a pub in Guildford. Convictions were based on confessions obtained by torture.