2007/10/08

Interrogations & the law

WaPo Headline: "Bush Defends Interrogations," printed in Philly Inquirer as "President Defends harsh interrogation."
WaPo's Dan Froomkin presents various views
My letter on the piece:


There are two, and only two, acceptable and legitimate ways to deal with a law one doesn't like. First, one can obey the law anyway and argue that the law should be changed. Second, one may commit civil disobedience, violate the law in an open manner and accept the consequences for doing so. A subcategory of civil disobedience is the "executive" or "command" decision wherein an executive or commander openly declares that a rule will not be followed in a specific instance.

To decide behind closed doors that a law will not be followed and to then back up that decision with a secret legal memorandum that no one outside the Executive Branch can review is nothing short of a criminal act. The President's declaration that the United States "does not torture people" is absolutely meaningless because the Bush Administration's definition of the word "torture" is classified.

Likewise, the declaration by CIA Director Michael Hayden that "Fewer than 100 hardened terrorists have gone through the program..." is likewise meaningless because no one outside of the Executive Branch has been able to conduct any serious review of "the program." No one who is not under the direct authority of the President can confirm or deny the number of "hardened terrorists" nor that the people detained and interrogated under "the program" were terrorists to begin with.

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