Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Take Your Torture And Go, George
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   09/22/2006)

George Bush 43, Commander-in-Chief, Decider, Your Royal Highness, however you'd like to be addressed….

For God's sake, take your torture program and go. Take your secret prisons, your attack dogs, your electrodes, your water boards, your feeding tubes, your ceiling restraints, your whipping wires, your excruciating music, your sleep deprivation, your hobbles and cuffs. Take all such instruments and go. They're making things much worse, as I will show you.

I saw you on CNN, Sept. 15, and you said that unless Congress “clarifies” Article 3 of the Geneva Accords, “the program is not going forward.” You sounded like a spoilt child threatening to take his ball and go home. But you weren't talking about a little ball, you were talking about torture, though you wouldn't call it that.

So, if you're that oblivious to how the majority of us feel about torture and the Geneva Accords, then please, maybe it's time you took your “program” and went home to Texas. Heaven curse the day you ever decided to leave there.

As Colin Powell suggested in his recent letter to John McCain, your undermining of the Geneva Accords threatens to take away whatever moral high ground our nation has attained. It's demoralizing our troops and further dividing the country.

Worse yet, it's ineffective. Tell me what your “program” has done for us? You claim it shut down another attack on the homeland. Can you provide a shred of hard evidence? I can name a dozen things you got precisely WRONG—and in a very loud and petulant voice—leading up to the war in Iraq.

One of them is especially pertinent, because it was based on torture. Over and over you suggested Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were in cahoots, and in February of 2003, you sent Powell over to the UN to make that claim to the world. Turns out the information he cited was based on lies told by a man undergoing torture.

I can show you where Newsweek, the New York Times, the New Yorker and others have shown that Powell unwittingly based his claim on lies told by one Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi.

Al-Libi, a man with serious mental problems, told his interrogators in Egypt—where he'd been sent by the CIA--that Saddam Hussein was teaching al-Qaeda how to make chemical and biological weapons. Powell didn't refer to al-Libi by name, rather he called him “a senior terrorist operative,” according to the New Yorker. Later, al-Libi recanted and said he'd made such false statements in order to end the torture. Unfortunately, by then it was too late. More than 100,000 people have likely died as a result of that bad information.

That's how torture works. Bad information begets bad action. Ask Maher Arar, an innocent Canadian engineer who was mistakenly put on a watch list in Canada. Snagged at a U.S. airport in 2002, Arar was secretly flown to Syria, where he was beaten with wires and chains and forced to live in a tiny underground grave, as he called it, unable to communicate with the family he'd left behind. He was released without charges one year later thanks to pressure from the Canadian government.

So yes, George, Your Highness, please, take your torture and go. It isn't working. While you're at it, take your signing statements and all the cute titles for programs that mean the opposite of what you name them, and give us back our Constitution and our country.

Try not to nuke anybody on your way out, as Seymour Hersh and several other reporters believe you're itching to do. Just take your phosphorous, your depleted uranium, your cluster bombs, your secret labs and everything else you've unleashed contrary to international law, and go away. If not now, then soon. At least say you'll go quietly come 2009 and not try slipping back into power, as some suggest you'll do, heaven help us, through one of the loopholes you've blasted in the Constitution.

Try to understand that, while some of us who loudly complain against you don't hate you, as our critics charge, we're heartsick and angry at what you're doing to our country, its reputation, its once-generous soul, its capacity for optimism, joy, empathy and rational debate. We're heartsick at what you're doing to our beautiful blue-green world. So please, take your talking points, your Karl Rove, your Condoleezza Rice, your hunting buddy Dick Cheney, your Alberto Gonzales, Paul Wolfowitz and secretary of offense Donald Rumsfeld. Take all the wolves you placed in charge of all the henhouses—at Treasury, Interior, FCC, Education, Labor, FDA, NRC. And then please let someone, anyone—maybe your father—take you by the hand and lead you away, to a very safe place.