Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Deeper Issue in Investigating Bush Administration Policy on Torture

I agree with Obama's decision to leave the door open for investigation, and prosecution, if warranted, of top Bush administration officials who sought to paint torture as legal. And it's not just because of torture as an issue. It's because our country needs, at long last, to confront an abuse of the law, at the highest levels, that goes much deeper.

The last war our country declared, as per our Constitution, was World War II. The wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq (twice), whatever their justification, were and are thus not legal by our Constitution. Neither, for that matter, is the Afghan war. Since the 1950s, our government has been operating in contradiction of the supreme law of the land when it comes to going to war.

Since the 1930s, and the creation of the FCC, our government has been operating in contravention of the First Amendment to our Constitution, and its insistence that Congress make "no law" abridging freedom of speech or press.

There are many other examples, in many other areas. The Supreme Court has ratified some of these actions (such as the FCC, incorrectly, in my view), but has not ruled on others.

In that climate, the Bush administration was only making its own contribution to nearly a century of lawlessness by our own government.

If an investigation of Bush administration policy on torture gets Americans to pay more attention to our government's bending and breaking of the law, that would be a result of the most lasting import, and one which all political philosophies should welcome.
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