From Torture to Tyranny

Just in case anyone has missed it, and judging by the lack of coverage in the mainstream media that may be a good bet, the U.S. Senate released a report last Thursday outlining the interrogation programs undertaken by the White House in the wake of 9/11.  The narrative presented by senior officials in the Bush Administration that it was the interrogators themselves who asked to “take the gloves off” and that the prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were the work of a “few bad apples” has been proven to be as fictional as Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.  The report pins the blame squarely on the shoulders of Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and other senior Bush Administration officials.

There have been a plethora of arguments offered for why the U.S. government should not employ “enhanced interrogation” techniques tantamount to torture:  it gives motivation to our enemies, it alienates our allies, it sullies our image around the world, etc.  One thing that seems to be continually forgotten is the simple fact that it is against the law to employ torture – both U.S. law and international law that is now codified American law by way of senate approval of treaties outlawing its practice.  With all the talk of freedom and democracy as universal panaceas to the world’s problems, it is often forgotten that our form of government is a republic – i.e. rule by law, not rule by man.  No matter how many legal opinions or memos written by John Yoo and David Addington it does not change the fact that the title Commander-in-Chief title applies to the president’s role as head of the military and not a license to violate the law as he sees fit.  The founding fathers drew a line in the sand between a free society and a tyrannical one when it established a nation based on the principle of the rule of law.  I think most reasonable people understand that there are times when lines will be crossed – though we would hope that those who do would be held accountable if discovered, but the Bush Administration has attempted to erase that line in the sand that separates tyranny and liberty.

Anyone who has read is probably familiar with liberal-progressive blogger Glenn Greenwald of  Despite his leftward leanings Greenwald is excellent on civil liberties (which one would hope considering he is a Constitutional lawyer).  He has a more extensive commentary on his blog that I would recommend.

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