The President and his Administration have seriously lost their way. They have now officially normalized unconstitutional policy by any reasonable reading of the document. But more importantly, in this case, the key office holders responsible for executing the law have subverted it, based on their own standards.
5. Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?Therefore, based on the authority asserted in the 16-page confidential Justice Department memo released yesterday by NBC news, the President has signed off on killing the very people he explicitly stated that it would be unconstitutional to simply detain.
No. I reject the Bush Administration's claim that the President has plenary authority under the Constitution to detain U.S. citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants.
If that is not the height of hypocrisy, I don't know what is.
Not only does he reject detainment without due process, but he had strong views on the extent to with the President can exert executive authority.
I also reject the view, suggested in memoranda by the Department of Justice, that the President may do whatever he deems necessary to protect national security, and that he may torture people in defiance of congressional enactments. In my view, torture is unconstitutional, and certain enhanced interrogation techniques like “waterboarding” clearly constitute torture. And as noted, I reject the use of signing statements to make extreme and implausible claims of presidential authority.He views torture as unconstitutional, but he views assassination without indictment or charges as absolutely constitutional and an appropriate use of executive power.
That is a difficult circle to square.
But it is not only the President. The Attorney General of the United States has also delegitimized himself through his actions.
In 2008, Eric Holder spoke to the American Constitution Society. In that speech, he appeared to be much more comfortable with the concept that constitutional rights are not simply guidance that can be ignored by the executive branch at will.
We have, quite frankly, lost our way with regard to this commitment to the Constitution and to the rule of law. The rule of law is not, as some have seen it, an obstacle to be overcome. It is the very foundations of our nation.That disregard for the rule of law was based on the following transgressions:
This disrespect for the rule of law is not only wrong, it is destructive in our struggle against terrorism,
"I never thought I would see the day when a Justice Department would claim that only the most extreme infliction of pain and physical abuse constitutes torture and that acts that are merely cruel, inhuman and degrading are consistent with United States law and policy, that the Supreme Court would have to order the president of the United States to treat detainees in accordance with the Geneva Convention, never thought that I would see that a president would act in direct defiance of federal law by authorizing warrantless NSA surveillance of American citizens.Can anyone reasonable person legitimately claim that any of these is more significant than the ability to kill American citizens via fiat, without due process and no imminent threat? I challenge anyone to make that assertion without twisting themselves into knots.
The full speech, which is chilling in retrospect, demonstrates how far off the reservation and down the slippery slope this Administration has moved after 4 years in office, and the lengths at which they have decided to go to protect prior Administrations and at this point, themselves from scrutiny or future prosecution.
But more than anything that the President or Eric Holder have said over the past six years, my biggest disappointment is the virtual silence of so-called liberals, progressives, and civil libertarians over the two day. I have no doubt, the current rec-list would be filled, yes exclusively filled, with diaries calling for hearings, if not impeachment on these practices if they were exposed during the Bush Administration. But yet, if unconstitutional actions are taken by an Administration that many members of these groups support, crickets.
That is beyond sad. It is the type of partisan lack of principle that ultimately leads to the undermining of just and civil societies.
Let me be crystal clear, Silence is Complicity.
I do not support in any manner this unconstitutional policy. It should be investigated and put an end to. Period. We are supposed to be the world's guide to justice, not injustice.
I voted for the President, but that by no means should be assumed to mean I support this policy, which is not differentiated between the two parties. I did not hear an alternative articulated. I also believe the President's Supreme Court appointees would be more likely to decide against this policy should it come before them.
That being said, I believe impeachment would be justified for anyone that was part of signing off on this, including the President, if action is not taken to end this destructive policy.
To be clear, justification is not synonymous with calling for impeachment, which is a political action. It is a simple statement that this is the type of action is the exact type of policy that justifies congressional oversight, inquiry, and if not repealed, ultimately impeachment should the Congress deem appropriate. I would hope the policy would be renounced and repealed before it came to that, but I would be the ultimate hypocrite if I didn't hold this administration to the same standard as I held the Bush Administration.
That is a difficult statement to make. I am not interested in handing our government over to people who possibly would be even worse and take even more aggressive action against our rights. I am frankly not even sure how I would come down if we reached that point (which we won't because Republicans support this policy more than Democrats). But subverting the Constitution should never be taken lightly. We must hold our political leaders accountable. If not, where does the policy end? What would stop the next Administration from moving this policy to American soil? The answer is nothing.
We have headed down this path before, under the Hoover FBI. And lots of bad things happened before the public finally decided their liberties where as important as their security. But that was before the "war on terror". I am concerned that we will not be able to "unring" the bell, if the current silence by those who care about the rule of law, on any side of the partisan divide remains silent.
Put simply, I subscribe to the following policy prescription:
“We owe the American people a reckoning. It is our responsibility as citizens to preserve and protect our constitution… Let me be clear: I firmly believe that there is evil in the world, and that we still face grave dangers to our security. But our ability to lead the world in combatting these dangers depends not only on the strength of our military leadership but our moral leadership as well. … To recapture it, we can no longer allow ourselves to be ruled by fear. We must evaluate our policies and our practices in the harsh light of day and steel ourselves to face the world’s dangers in accord with the rule of law.”The man who made that statement: Eric Holder.