By Mark Tooley (@MarkDTooley)
The chief torturer of Sudan’s Islamist regime is soon to visit the U.S., igniting not a peep of concern from left-leaning church officials ostensibly very concerned about “torture.” Instead, a long list of prominent church honchos is instead demanding President Obama close Guantanamo Bay detention center because of its reputed history of “torture.” Their letter was organized by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, which has received over $1 million from George Soros.
“Guantanamo Bay is a place where our government tortured prisoners, and it continues to be a place where many are detained indefinitely without trial,” the church activists wrote Obama. “We believe that our government has a moral obligation to close the prison at Guantanamo. We hope that you share this belief and that you will act expeditiously to close Guantanamo.”
The letter was signed by old-line Protestant officials with groups like the National Council of Churches and United Methodist Board of Church and Society, with old leftist Catholic lobbies like Pax Christi and Sister Simone Campbell’s “Nuns on the Bus” NETWORK, plus the Islamic Society of North America of course.
The prelates and activists are “deeply concerned” about Guantanamo’s persistence and the “indefinite detention without trial of many of the people imprisoned there” at the “nation’s most visible and painful symbol of torture and indefinite detention,” exemplifying America’s “deep moral wound.”
Church officials are particularly troubled by 86 “cleared detainees” who remain there, without mentioning that a chief problem is finding countries willing to accept them. They also don’t mention the released inmates who have returned to murder and terror. And they’re troubled by the “desperation and hopelessness felt by many of the detainees” that has “recently sparked a hunger strike,” “highlighting the growing human tragedy of the detention center.”
The church activists complain about a proposed nearly $200 million upgrade for Guantanamo, which does sound pricey. But their complaint showcases how the Religious Left is only concerned about costs when related to national security, for which nearly any price is too much. They want to start “transferring prisoners” but don’t say where or how. Presumably they want them, if not released, moved to the U.S. and into the domestic criminal justice system.
For the Religious Left, Guantanamo is important as an unwanted symbol of the War on Terror, which for them does not or should not exist. For them, the U.S. largely has no enemies who were not provoked or cannot be ameliorated through good will and reparations. For them, detainees are more victims than dangerous terrorists or terror sympathizers.
This denunciation of Guantanamo comes courtesy of George Soros’ philanthropy. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) (by the U.S.) received over $1 million from 2007 to 2011, the last available reporting year. Soros’ Open Society Foundations in 2010 hosted a NRCAT conversation on 9-11’s anniversary to spotlight the giving outreach of the philanthropy’sNational Security and Human Rights Campaign. Participants were NRCAT chief and Presbyterian minister/activist Richard Kilmer, former Islamic Society of North America president Ingrid Mattson, Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster of Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, and former National Association of Evangelicals chief lobbyist Richard Cizik, now head of New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good. Cizik boasted of NRCAT’s “Shoulder to Shoulder” campaign against “anti-Muslim bigotry,” whose purpose was evidenced, he said, by Congressman Peter King’s 2011 Homeland Security Committee hearings on what Cizik dismissed as alleged “radicalization of the American Muslim community,” but which he said actually exemplified the “marginalization and typecasting of a religious community.”
NRCAT itself was formed in 2006, in response to the Abu Ghraib photos, by Princeton University theologian George Hunsinger “to examine how religious communities could respond to the U.S. military’s use of torture against 9/11 detainees.” NRCAT fights “torture” by the U.S., or by implication any government that may help the U.S., but not by anybody else. NRCAT also combats “anti-Muslim bigotry,” which is laudable, except that “bigotry” often includes any substantive concern about radical Islam.
June will be NRCAT’s annual “Anti-Torture Month” when local religious congregations are enlisted to oppose the U.S. War on Terror, of which “torture” is presumed to be central, and which includes a film called Ending U.S.-Sponsored Torture Forever. There are even anti- torture prayer and sermons for a complete worship experience devoted to opposing “torture” by the U.S., but not really by anybody else, especially America’s adversaries.
So don’t expect any NRCAT or wider Religious Left concerns about the impending U.S. visit of former Sudanese chief torturer Nafie Ali Nafie, once head of the genocidal Islamist regime’s notorious intelligence service and still a top presidential advisor infamous for personally having tortured opposition leaders, for which he expresses no regret when asked. Any protests against him might stoke anti-Muslim bigotry (although most of that regime’s victims are themselves Muslim) and distract attention from the far more vital mission of endlessly spotlighting U.S. detention abuses, real and alleged, of mostly 10 years ago.
This blog post originally appeared on the FrontPage Magazine website.