We cannot repay evll with evil.

Sunday, 12/14/14

Our readings today each featured an unselfish man.In the first reading Isaiah thanked God for appointing him to bring glad tidings to the poor. In the second reading Paul rejoiced at being sent to be a mentor to the people of Thessalonica. In the Gospel John declared himself to be the forerunner of one whose sandals he was not worthy to unlatch.

When I mentioned the unselfishness of Isaiah, Paul, and John to a friend he told me that the third step in the AA Program speaks of such people as being, “Released from, the bondage of self love.”  

As Christians, and even as sincere humans, we need to treat others fairly. This need was brought into question this week with the Senate’s release of a C.I.A. report that they had unjustly retained or tortured individuals.

The U.S. had always condemned secret imprisonment and torture, but with the sudden deaths of almost 3000 innocent office workers and 1400 rescue workers in the 9/11 attack, and with a strong minority of the Muslim world applauding the slaughter, we were made to see that  we were in a game with different rules.

The president signed the secret guidelines called “Memorandum of Notification” or MON, which carefully outlined the body of evidence against any subject that would authorize the C.I.A. to secretly detain him or her.

America, who had given real kindness to to her fallen enemies Germany and Japan, now had to live with the  embarrassing report from the Senate this week. It gives adequate accounts of at least 26 individuals who were imprisoned or tortured even though their suspected irregularities fell far short of the MON guidelines.

You can read newspaper stories on some of the 26 mistakenly detained people. A Mr. Bashmilah with a business in Indonesia was traveling with his wife, carrying funds he had raised for an operation for his mother when he was detained by our Jordanian allies. They hung him upside down, beating him for three weeks. Back then he focused his attention on a fly at the bottom of his wall, praying for the fly to find a way out. Three times during 19 months of solitary confinement he failed in suicide attempts. Then, eight years ago, with no evidence against him, he was released without an apology. With his case coming out as part of the Senate report, he is wondering if he would now receive that apology.

The Senate report speaks of an Algerian, Laid Saidi, who was detained in place a suspect with a similar name. After being treated to freezing baths, he was made to stand without sleeping for 66 hours, listening to very loud music. He was released when our people realized they were mistaken about him.

We would hope the U.S. would not abandon the principle that states, “Two wrongs do not make a right.” The ungodly behavior of our 9/11 attackers does not justify our being ungodly.

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