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Open Letter to Alberto Gonzales

Open Letter to Alberto Gonzales

We, the undersigned religious leaders, greet your nomination to be Attorney General of the United States with grave concern.

As a self-professed evangelical Christian, you surely know that all people are created in the image of God. You see it as a moral imperative to treat each human being with reverence and dignity. We invite you to affirm with us that we are all are made in the image of God – every human being. We invite you to acknowledge that no legal category created by mere mortals can revoke that status. You understand that torture – the deliberate effort to undermine human dignity – is a grave sin and affront to God. You would not deny that the systemic use of torture on prisoners at Abu Ghraib was fundamentally immoral, as is the deliberate rendering of any detainee to authorities likely to commit torture.

We urge you to declare that any attempt to undermine international standards on torture, renditions, or habeas corpus is not only wrong but sinful. We are concerned that as White House counsel you have shown a troubling disregard for international laws against torture, for the legal rights of suspected "enemy combatants," and for the adverse consequences your decisions have had at home and abroad.

How could you have written a series of legal memos that disrespected international law and invited these abuses? How could you have justified the use of torture and disavowed protections for prisoners of war? How could you have referred to the Geneva Conventions as “quaint” and “obsolete.” We fear that your legal judgments have paved the way to torture and abuse.

We therefore call upon you

• To denounce the use of torture under any circumstances;

• To affirm, with the Supreme Court, that it is unconstitutional to imprison anyone designated as an "enemy combatant" for months without access to lawyers or the right to challenge their detentions in court;

• To affirm the binding legality of the Geneva Conventions and the laws of war;

• And to reject the practice of "extraordinary rendition," at home and abroad, by which terrorist suspects are sent to countries that practice torture for interrogation.

We believe, as you do, that the United States must be an example of moral leadership in the world community. However, the events at Abu Ghraib have gravely compromised America's moral authority. We ask that you commit yourself as Attorney General to repairing that damage by articulating and enforcing legal policies that reject the use of torture, embrace and advance standards of international law, and honor the dignity of all of God's creation.

With prayers for wisdom and grace,

Over 225 Religious Leaders
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