Inadequate response to Alabama torture scandal sparks outrage and disbelief

On Human Rights Day in 2008, then-President-elect Barack Obama emphasized the foundational belief of the United States that all individuals, including those like Kenneth Smith who have been sentenced to death, possess inherent and inalienable rights. This principle has not only allowed us to continually strive for a more perfect union domestically but also serves as a beacon of hope for the world. It finds its embodiment in various agreements that Americans have helped shape, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and treaties specifically targeting torture and genocide. These agreements serve to unite people from diverse countries and cultures in upholding the fundamental principles of human rights. Vice President Mike Pence also expressed his support for the prohibition of torture during a congressional hearing before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, highlighting the illegality of such practices as stipulated by multiple provisions of the law.

Torture has always been a subject that unites people of good moral character across party lines. Journalist Shepard Smith eloquently captured this sentiment when he declared on television, “We are America; we don’t torture! And if that ever changes, count me out!” This unwavering stance against torture is shared by renowned American writer James Baldwin, who, in his influential essay “The Devil Finds Work” published in 1976, argued that those who are capable of inflicting torture cannot be taken seriously when they speak about the value of human life or the conscience of civilized society.

Why haven’t President Biden, Congress, and the judiciary expressed their outrage at Kenneth Smith’s torture yet, in line with America’s promise to other nations?

Stephen Cooper, a former public defender in Washington D.C., brings a wealth of experience to his writing. Having served as an assistant federal public defender in Alabama from 2012 to 2015, he has a deep understanding of the legal system. Cooper’s insightful contributions have been featured in various magazines and newspapers, both in the United States and abroad. Currently residing in Woodland Hills, California, he dedicates his time to writing full-time.

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