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Tom Andrews

Tom Andrews

Posted: October 23, 2009 02:18 PM

The Company You Keep

What's Your Reaction?

As the saying goes, you can tell a lot about people by the company that they keep.

Yesterday's announcement by nationally acclaimed musicians that they were signing onto our National Campaign to Close Guantanamo Bay generated a harsh response from Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol's new right-wing organization "Keep America Safe".

The neo-con group that wants to keep Guantanamo Bay prison open for business and defends the torture policies of the Bush-Cheney administration called the musician's support for the closure of Gitmo and an end to torture "pathetic".

Today, a former senior military interrogator who led the team that found Abu Musab Al Zarqawi (the former leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq) hit back in a statement released by VoteVets.org - an organization of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Matthew Alexander literally wrote the book on interrogating terrorist suspects - How to Break a Terrorist. He has conducted more than 300 interrogations himself and supervised 1,000 more. Here is what he had to say today:

"Guantanamo Bay remains an effective recruiting tool for Al Qaida to this day. The longer it remains open, the longer we'll fail to do all we can to protect ourselves from terrorist attacks. It is the epitome of everything we could have done wrong in the fight against Islamic extremism -- unlawful detentions without charge and torture and abuse. We can only defeat ourselves in this battle, and Guantanamo Bay was, and remains, a big step in that direction."

Alexander explained the key to his success in his role as an interrogator in Iraq in a piece published last summer in the Huffington Post: "The point that is most absent is that our greatest success in this conflict was achieved without torture or abuse."

Jay Bagwell, a VoteVets.org member who served in Afghanistan was also quoted in their news release: "Veterans Stand With Musicians on Call to Close Guantanamo". In a video recording, Bagwell said: "Torture makes our troops less safe. Torture creates terrorists."

Alexander, Bagwell and VoteVets.org understand through personal experience why closing Gitmo is so important not only to our nation's moral standing in the world, but to the men and women who we put into harm's way.

I'm proud to be in their company, grateful for their service to our nation and thrilled to have them - and the musicians who they stood up for today - on board this campaign.

Join them and sign the Open Letter to Congress. You'll be in great company.

Cross-posted at www.closegitmonow.org