Monday, February 27, 2006

A Nation’s Shame

I am fortunate to live in an area of Virginia which has a large dose of freethinkers; among them is John Whitehead, who is a Constitutional attorney and president of the Albemarle County-based Rutherford Institute. John recently wrote an article in the local rag, the Daily Progress, often referred to by locals as the Regress. In this case though I commend the Progress for printing this article for it has much to say about the abuse of power at the very highest levels and the torturous reasoning, pun intended, by some so-called constitutional lawyers to justify the use of torture and the so-called unitary theory of presidential powers.

In this article Whitehead cites a recent debate in which John Yoo, who wrote the crucial memos justifying President Bush’s policies on torture was asked, “If the President deems it necessary that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?” Yoo, who is currently a professor at the University of California law school at Berkeley, replied,” No treaty.” He went on to espouse the notion of the “unitary executive.”

The theory of unitary executive is the idea that as commander-in-chief the president is the sole judge of the law. He is unbound by the Geneva Conventions against torture and possesses inherent authority to subordinate the entire government to his rule-including Congress and the courts- when he decides to do so.

I find it unbelievable that a constitutional lawyer could declare that the president has dictatorial powers. I also find it unbelievable that Berkeley has hired this clown to presumable teach constitutional law; I pity his students. What the hell was Berkeley thinking? Is this what our forefathers bled and died for so that King George could rule us? It’s time to take to the streets and declare that the rule of George is over!

The Article goes onto cite numerous reports on the outsourcing of suspected terrorists for torture through a program known as “extraordinary rendition.” The director of Amnesty International, William Schultz, has in his possession a set of CIA flight logs that he states constitute irrefutable proof that the US is disappearing people into secret facilities where they are held incommunicado without charge, trial or access to the outside world and presumable are being tortured to obtain information. Such tortures include: putting a rat in a pot on a prisoners stomach, heating the pot forcing the rat to dig into the prisoners stomach in a desperate attempt to escape, creating a living hell for the so-called enemy of the state.

We profess to be the nation of freedom and democracy. Bush’s current justification for the invasion of Iraq is to spread democracy throughout the Middle East. Even if you think such methods are justified and I for one don’t see how any civilized person could, they are counterproductive. Interrogation experts have said on numerous occasions that torture does not work. Under torture prisoners will say anything to stop the torture whether it is true or not. More importunately, all torture is doing is to provide more fuel for the terrorists fire. By employing these methods either directly or indirectly we are helping the recruiting of more terrorists and shaming our nation in the bargain.

David Goldberg