24 February 2006

Policy of Cruelty

The following is a quote from former Naval General Counsel Alberto Mora, featured in an article in the current New Yorker by Jane Mayer.

In my strongly held view, anyone who doesn’t wholeheartedly endorse this statement, and do everything in his or her power to see to it that every action taken by or under the authority of the government abides by its spirit, has no business serving in our government in any capacity.
“If cruelty is no longer declared unlawful, but instead is applied as a matter of policy, it alters the fundamental relationship of man to government. It destroys the whole notion of individual rights. The Constitution recognizes that man has an inherent right, not bestowed by the state or laws, to personal dignity, including the right to be free of cruelty. It applies to all human beings, not just in America—even those designated as ‘unlawful enemy combatants.’ If you make this exception the whole Constitution crumbles. It’s a transformative issue.”

17 February 2006

Pakistani Cleric solicits murder

ABC news reports that a Pakistani Muslim cleric has offered $1 million for the murder of one of the Danish cartoonists who drew cartoons of Muhammad. Every Western nation should demand of President Musharraf that this blatant solicitation of murder be immediately investigated and prosecuted, failing which diplomats should be withdrawn. This is just not acceptable conduct in countries claiming the privileges of membership in the International community.

02 February 2006

We cannot tolerate a government that deliberately breaks the law

I keep hearing on the media various citations of public opinion that the unwarranted wiretaps carried out by the Bush administration are necessary, might prevent a terrorist attack, we're at war, so it's OK, etc. But these all miss the essential point, as far as I'm concerned. The issue is not whether the wiretaps are a good idea. Maybe they are, I don't pretend to know for sure. The issue is whether this administration is constrained to abide by the rule of law. It claims it isn't... or rather that a grossly vague authorization to "use force" allows it to ignore the 4th amendment and particular statutory provisions wholesale.

There are two, in my opinion, inescapable realities here:

1. Any reasonable interpretation of FISA, which is the law of the land, prohibits this conduct. In conjunction with the 4th amendment, the conduct is unquestionably illegal. The rationalization offered by the administration is simply not a credible interpreation of the intent of the Congress to delegate powers to the presidency.

2. The administration opposed a bill in Congress in 2002, while it was carrying out this illegal acitvity, which would have made reforms to FISA to make the kind of wiretaps they want to conduct easier to authorize.

I don't see how any reasonable person can fail to draw the conclusion: the government deliberately concealed from the public and most of the Congress the fact that it was intentionally violating the law.

Impeachment is called for (even though it is probably not politically feasible, unless the House reverts to the Democrats this year). Not because the wiretaps weren't necessary... that's a separate issue. Because if we are to be a nation of laws not of men, we must not tolerate our government intentionally violating the law in so widespread, long-term, and flagrant a manner as this, or else we place the future of representative government in doubt.