11/07/2007 09:15 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Fighting To Stop Torture

OK, enough double-talk and obfuscations from the Republicans. Let's get it out in the open: who believes the United States should never use torture, and who does not?

No more statements like the typical Republican response, "We won't comment on specific procedures we may or may not do." Let's get specific and show everyone what makes America America: We don't torture, and waterboarding is torture.

I opposed Judge Mukasey's nomination because of his refusal to take a stand on whether or not waterboarding is torture.

But he said that if Congress passed a law that made it clear where we stood on this reprehensible practice, he'd enforce it. So, here we go: let's define waterboarding as torture once and for all.

I'm a cosponsor of Sen. Kennedy's bill that defines a wide variety of specific things as torture, including waterboarding. It's another reminder why I am so proud to be Ted's colleague. But it's also another reminder that those who suggest there's nothing we can do to stop a run-away executive are just dead wrong - if we've got the courage of our convictions.

But, like everything we try to do, we're going to have to ram it past the opposition of some Roadblock Republicans, and I'll probably need your help.

Listen to veterans who know the importance of the Geneva Conventions prohibitions on torture to our soldiers on the battlefield. Listen to what John McCain says about torture. It's a vital dividing line between civilization and barbarism, even in the worst of war. A country can't cross that line without suffering grave harm, from increased danger to its soldiers to a lessening of moral authority in the world. There are some dividing lines of right and wrong that simply should not be crossed, and torture is one bright one. And I'm determined to do all I can to keep our country on the right side of that line.

In an Administration where Attorney Generals have seemed conveniently unsure of what constitutes torture, let's give the next Attorney General a law that leaves no doubts in anyone's minds. Let's bring all of the United States government under the Army Field Manual's directives, and specifically define as torture a series of actions and techniques, such as waterboarding, mock executions, beating or "other forms of physical pain to an individual", and a number of others.

The sad truth is that we need to do this when you have an Administration that has blurred the lines of torture and a Vice President who lobbied for it. It's time to make the Administration hear the voice of the American people saying, "We believe this is wrong, and we won't have this done in our name."

I set up a petition on my website where you say tell Congress that you believe that torture isn't just immoral, it should be illegal. I included a place where you could put your own thoughts on why you believe this so strongly. We should all add our voice and say, "Not in our name!" So, click here to add your name to the list of Americans who are saying just that, "There will be no torture in my name."

But that's not the end; this will be a long legislative fight, and this is not just a petition, this is the beginning of a campaign to make this happen. So I'll be keeping in touch with you, letting you know about more opportunities to make a difference, from calling into the offices of your Senators or Representatives to writing letters to the editors of your local paper and much more.

This is not going to be an easy fight. The Roadblock Republicans are well practiced in their methods of obstruction and fear on these issues, and they'll be pulling out all the stops on this one, I'm sure. (The only time they seem to want to talk about Osama bin Laden is when they're trying to defend actions like this, so I'm sure we'll hear lots of scaremongering throughout this fight. We'll need your help to get this done.)

It's time to help put our country on record: torture is against the bedrock morals of this country, and we won't stand for the use of it in our name.