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Reader g shepard wrote:

“I’d be interested to hear your comments on how the current debate over the use of torture by the US as part of the war on terror has affected your work.”

While the debate hasn’t affected the program of services we provide, it has been disappointing to see the human rights abuses committed by our government. We take the stand that torture is always wrong. No government, no organization, no person has the right to torture.

I like to think that our country stands for dignity and justice, so it’s horrifying to think about what goes on in secret detention facilities around the world. For people who work in our office, it hits particularly close to home because we see the damage that torture causes. There’s pain, nightmares, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and other long-lasting effects. We know that torture is a reality, and it’s a reality that stays with a person forever.

Probably the biggest challenge for us is that torture has turned into more of a controversial issue in America. Since we began, we’ve received tremendous bi-partisan support from policymakers, but some people in the community have begun to think of torture as a partisan issue. It’s shocking and saddening that there would actually be a base of people who consider themselves pro-torture.

There’s a documentary starting tomorrow, Feb. 8 at the Ken Cinema called “Taxi to the Dark Side.” I’d highly recommend the film to anyone who wants to learn more about how America found its way to the dark side, the damage it’s done to our country’s reputation, and why there needs to be a stronger campaign against torture.

— KATHI ANDERSON

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