A letter, put in the post this morning:
Senator John McCain
2201 East Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016
I would like to start by saying that although I am not a constituent of yours, I feel the need to reach out to you personally in the wake of the Senate Select Committee report on the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.
I have for many years respected your positions and statements on most of the topics you have addressed as a politician, and am also very aware of how you allow your experience to guide your words and actions. To be blunt, your informed, unabashed stand against torture in the Senate is extremely important to me. I say this as someone who has been through SERE courses, and there been exposed to debriefs and analysis of your experiences; and now also as someone who realizes that during the course of my duties in Operation Enduring Freedom, I directly enabled, and was a key component of, some of the missions that put people into the facilities and programs described in the Senate report.
I of course had no idea what those facilities and programs were like. In fact, it was a topic of occasional jokes that captured militants, and particularly High Value Individuals, probably wished they'd been rolled up sooner when they realized the deal they were getting. Three hots and a cot, air conditioning, indoor plumbing? A higher standard of living than most Afghans will ever know – almost as though they were being rewarded. Honestly, looking back on it, it seems like the setup for a fast cut in a brutal documentary about war crimes. Hindsight does not lessen the absolute horror I feel when I look at the bullet points on my performance reviews, or the verbage in citations, that describe in clipped jargon how many HVIs I delivered into an inhuman nightmare.
I was discharged in 2011, and have only now started to get traction with the VA. As a result, I am due to start a round of therapy for PTSD late this year. I'm still not sure how I will process these most recent revelations, but knowing that at the very least you will continue to represent a voice of informed reason in the matter is a small, but important fallback for me both mentally and emotionally.
I'm not writing to ask you for anything other than to keep doing what you're doing, and remember that aside from the damage these revelations are doing to America's image abroad, to please also consider and tell others how it is damaging the relationship America has with its veterans. I didn't go to the war, accept the necessity of killing for my country, and devote myself to stomping out monsters and warlords just to learn that my own side was doing things worse than those for which we executed war criminals in WWII.
Thank you for your service both in war and peace, and thank you for your time.