The manner in which we seek justice against those accused of harming us will determine whether the United States will be seen at home and abroad as a nation of laws. We must decide whether we live the values of justice that make us proud to be Americans, or whether we will forsake those values and continue down a path of arbitrary rules and procedures more befitting those who are our enemies. Because we are a great nation, true to our founders’ vision, we must uphold our core values even in the toughest of times. The right to a speedy trial in a court of law before an objective arbiter; the right to due process; the right to rebut the evidence against you; the right not to be tortured or waterboarded, or convicted on the basis of hearsay evidence are what truly define America and our commitment to the rule of law and our founders’ aspirations. — Anthony D. Romero
John Yoo, the former Bush Administration lawyer and legal advisor, along with Alberto Gonzales have become infamous in the American psyche as the legal team who deliberately argued the support of torture as well as various Constitutional violations. Shortly after the events of September 11, Americans were told that this was a new kind of war that would require changes in the way America conducted itself.
For most legal scholars, constitutionalists, and human rights activists the ideas of having to redefine or to defend current definitions of torture, cruel and unusual punishment, and whether or not constitutional law applied during wartime became a kind of surreal nightmare that few understood. According to Mark Danner, once Alberto Gonzales had written that “this new paradigm renders obsolete the Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions,” arguments among government officials broke out. The Department of Defense expressed grave concern stating that such a decision “will reverse over a century of US policy and practice in supporting the Geneva conventions and undermine protections of the law for our troops.”
As evidenced by photographs coming from Abu Ghraib and the “Torture Memos”, it has become apparent to any Americans listening that the torture that took place there as well as Gitmo was deliberate, and certainly conducted with the full permission of higher ups in the military and the White House.
In an interview with Phillepe Sands on Democracy Now! Juan Gonzales reported that, “The Bush administration’s treatment of prisoners and interrogation methods is coming under increased scrutiny this week following the declassification of a 2003 memo. The memo shows the Justice Department told the Pentagon that presidential authority overrode numerous laws banning torture or cruel treatment of prisoners in US custody. The memo endorsed assault, maiming and even administering mind-altering drugs on prisoners. The memo was written on March 14, 2003 by attorney John Yoo. At the time, Yoo was a deputy in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. Today, Yoo is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
Meanwhile, the British attorney Philippe Sands has just published an article in Vanity Fair exposing new details about how Yoo and other high-ranking administration attorneys helped design and implement the interrogation policies seen at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and secret CIA prisons.
According to Vanity Fair, then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales personally visited Guantanamo in 2002, discussed interrogation techniques and witnessed interrogations. Also on the trip was David Addington, then Dick Cheney’s chief counsel, and William Haynes, the general counsel of the Department of Defense.
Remarkably and under reported, disdain for the rule of law does not end on the soil of Iraq and Cuba, according to a recently released memo obtained by the ACLU, through a Freedom of Information Act request, evidence of White House officials contempt for the Constitution becomes more evident. In documents citing the Fourth Amendment (protections against unreasonable search and seizure), titled “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States.” authors point out, “our office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations,”
Even more alarming however, is that this President and Vice President continue to hold their positions in office. It leaves this law-abiding citizen to stare in shock and awe as to how it is possible that United States citizens continue to allow this to happen.