Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 6 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

Condi Rice Pulls A Nixon: When the President Does It, That Means It is Not Illegal

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   1 comment
Message Cenk Uygur
Become a Fan
  (37 fans)

 From the Huffington Post  04/30/09

Condoleezza Rice was recently speaking at Stanford when students asked her an excellent question on waterboarding and torture. They have her answer on tape and it isn't pretty. Condi Rice absolutely pulls a Nixon.

Here are the relevant quotes:

"The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations under the Convention Against Torture."

Nothing we would do? Nothing? As I ask in the video above, what would happen if the president authorized you to murder someone, would it still not be illegal?

Next up, Condoleezza Rice denies any personal responsibility:

"I didn't authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency, that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department's clearance. That's what I did."

Oh I see, she just conveyed the authorization. And how is that different than giving the authorization?

By the way, lest we forget she "conveyed" the authorization for waterboarding, which has been considered torture and illegal under any and all treaties and laws of the United States. That is exactly why this is a legal hot potato that no one wants to get stuck holding at the end of the day. Here she pushes the blame on to two different entities - President Bush and the Justice Department.

Now, the final coup de grace - once the president authorized it, it became legal:

"The United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture, and so by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture." (emphasis added)

That is as close as you can get to Richard Nixon's infamous comment, "When the president does it, that means it is not illegal."

This is why I say these people don't understand the whole concept behind America. In our system of government, the president is not supposed to be above the law. He is not a king; his word is not the law. The president can violate the law and when he does, he is supposed to be held accountable. That is supposed to be one of the pillars of our democracy.

Look at what she said: "[B]y definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture." Does that mean the president can authorize any kind of torture under the Convention Against Torture?

If someone doesn't do something about this dangerous idea it will do more damage than the torture itself. Yes, the torture damaged our reputation across the world, helped terrorists recruit fighters against us, endangered our soldiers and sullied the name of America. But if this precedent - that the president can authorize anything and make it legal "by definition" - is allowed to stand, then our whole form of government is in jeopardy.

A violation of the law is, of course, a big deal, especially on something this grave and important. This is not a jaywalking ticket. There were 34 suspected or confirmed homicides of detainees, some clearly due to torture. It does not get any more serious than this. But what is even worse is if you set the precedent that violations of the law like this will not have any consequences. That is bigger than the crime itself.

The precedent does more damage than the law breaking because it sets the new boundaries and rules for our government. It confirms what Rice and Nixon argue for: When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.

Allowing that idea to stand unchallenged does far more damage to the republic than any one crime committed by any one person (or the prosecution thereof), even if that person is the president.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Cenk Uygur Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Cenk Uygur is host of The Young Turks, the first ever live, daily web television talk show. The Young Turks are on XM Satellite Radio 8-9PM ET (XM 167, America Left) and on Sirius Left 146. The Young Turks is one of the Top 100 You Tube Partners, with over 18 million views a month on (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Fox News Comes Out of the Closet

Glenn Beck's Horrific Lie

Where Are the Tea Party Protests About Wall Street?

Who is More Conservative: Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama?

How the Rich Conduct Class Warfare

How to Regain Our Democracy

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend