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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 4/26/09

The Chilling Effect Of Torture On The Constitution

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Michael Weber

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The Republicans are falling all over themselves about the recently released Torture Memos. Their claims range from: these were policy issues, and prosecution of policy differences will set a bad legal precedence. To: releasing the memos has informed our enemies as to the limits of our depravity. To: they worked. Murder works to rid oneself of an antagonist, but it is still illegal. Robbery works to alleviate one's stressed financial circumstances, but it is still illegal. Many things that work and may be expedient are not allowed by a lawful, civilized society. What is at stake is our Republic and the rule of law.

Even anti-torture stalwart John McCain has said: "that prosecution of lawyers who wrote the memos will have a "chilling effect" on the legal advice given the President". John, how about the "chilling effect" on the Constitution if these law breakers go unprosecuted?

No where among their sophistic arguments have any of them bothered to mention that, torture is illegal. It was illegal when the memos were written and its illegal now, according to our Constitution and according to International law. None of them have bothered to mention that this nation was founded to protect "human rights" not trample them, which is what we are supposedly defending in Iraq.

The fact is, "legal opinions" contrary to established law, are not law. These memos are at best, rationales to circumvent the law. At worst they are the deliberate contrivance of the power hungry to impose their views as law and trample the Constitution and international law.

As for the idea that these were junior lawyers running amok writing these memos to lead the administration astray is absurd on its face. Just as absurd as the 12 soldiers who were hung out to dry as "bad seed" running amok at Abu Gharib without direction. Which in retrospect, points to the reprehensible lack of moral courage on the part of the authors of these "policies" who permitted those twelve to take the full brunt of punishment, to cover themselves and their culpability. As a matter of fact a newly declassified narrative shows that the small group of Justice Department lawyers who wrote memos were not operating on their own but, at the direction from top administration officials, including Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice.

It was the same arrogance of superior thinking that led us into an ill advised war that has bankrupted this country both morally and financially. These were not legitimate "policy decisions" these were deliberate attempts to circumvent the law. Just like the lies about Iraq were the means used to justify the invasion of a sovereign nation. The memos were the means to ignore the law.

John McCain is right about one thing--if America exhibits the moral courage and conviction to refocus and prosecute those who have broken our laws with impunity, it will have a chilling effect on future law breakers.

But then, isn't that why we punish those that break the law?
To make them think twice.

Let the Department Of Justice know your views about appointing a Special Prosecutor to investigate the authors of torture at: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov.

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I am a child of the WWII era. I have always considered myself a patriot, even when I have passionately disagreed with the policies of the government. My view is that disagreeing with the current caretakers, during any administration, is not only our (more...)
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