Torture: Stop Enabling Them
Congress is dealing with proposals to end “renditions” to other countries of suspected terrorists. Now, this country only has a very low level debate about tortute going on (try as I might, I couldn’t find any actual defense of “torturing people because of a ticking time bomb” going on outside Freeper-town, and I’m not using them as my straw men) so it’s hard to actually deal with arguments about torture. It’s become a playground for liberals to hate the military, and a way for conservatives to tell their supporters that liberals automatically fault the military.
Did Gonzales write that anti-Geneva Convention memo? Probably. Has he stood behind it? No. Does it directly apply to torture? No. It probably is only the justification for things like Guantanamo Bay, which we’ve known about since 2001.
Anyway, because of all this wishy-washy-ness, I think we can comfortably say that torturing prisoners is against the 8th Amendment banning “cruel and unusual punishment”. You may think these civil liberties are outmoded “suicide pacts”, but I think we can all agree that a) the Constitution forbids these actions (both via the 8th amendment and the 14th one) and b) the majority of the American public does too.
(If you think this rendition is perfectly appropriate for the times we live in, well then I probably don’t have to convince you of the uselessness of the Constitution. Also: you scare me. Yes Yes you.)
But what we have now, is the executive branch sending suspects it wants information out of, to other countries, where they are tortured and we are given the information. The opposition party, sensing the public supports them on this issue, demands to pass a law that would halt this activity. The party in power uses procedural constraints to stop said vote.
Wow, asking other countries to violate our Constitutional rights. That’s a great idea. I guess the government can also run the school system, if it makes sure to subcontract out the work through Switzerland. Actually, there’s already considerable evidence that the NSA uses Britain to spy on us. So I guess none of this is new, but is really a great spin on how ineffectual our hard-and-fast limitations on government action are. Heck, maybe this will make Scalia finally care about what the rest of world opinion is.
So against both popular will and Constitutional limitations, the governing party uses the separation of powers to surreptitiously treat prisoners in ways that our founding fathers saw as the most pre-eminently important thing to stop.