Yesterday, President Obama left open the possibility of prosecuting former Bush administration officials for devising harsh interrogation tactics, saying it “is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the parameters of various laws and I don't want to prejudge that.”
Last week, Americans across hundreds of cities gathered at “tea parties” to protest the excessive size and reach of government spending and taxation.
These two seemingly unrelated events epitomize the moral crisis that has befallen our nation. Our recklessly irresponsible politicians have forgotten that their job is to protect and defend this nation and its people, not to provide for them!
Obama’s statements came after he recently declassified CIA memos detailing interrogation methods used on detainees, a move widely criticized by the intelligence community — and one that should bring great relief to al-Qaida members everywhere.
Of course, liberals are spewing their typical talking points about why declassifying these memos and investigating Bush officials for war crimes is necessary, saying things like “no man is above the law.”
Yet, the president, as the head of one of three co-equal branches of government, is entitled to a degree of deference in interpreting and implementing federal law and the Constitution. While the concept may seem controversial on its face, it is actually so axiomatic that we take it for granted.
The president acts “above the law” (whatever that even means) all the time when he issues executive orders or guides administrative and regulatory policies that are arguably within the jurisdiction of Congress. However, in no area is the president more historically and constitutionally entitled to such deference than when acting as commander in chief, a power which the Constitution entrusts to him alone.
This is especially the case when the law is silent on the matter, as it is in the case of whether waterboarding and other “harsh interrogation tactics” constitute torture. And whether our European allies or the peanut gallery at the U.N. regard them as such is irrelevant.
In fact, U.S. ratification of the U.N. Convention Against Torture was qualified so as to limit its scope to the existing U.S. legal framework. So, when the ACLU says on its Web site that “because the U.S. ratified the treaty in October 1994, it is obligated to comply with the provisions of the treaty just as it would any other domestic law. The U.S. Constitution itself makes clear that treaties are ‘the law of the land,’” it is being more than just a little disingenuous.
Liberals also like to point out that following World War II, the U.S. charged and sentenced a Japanese officer with war crimes for waterboarding — in addition to other things, including burning with a cigarette — a U.S. civilian.
For several reasons, however, not the least of which are the very obvious difference in facts, that precedent does not constitute legal authority that would render Bush policies illegal.
Furthermore, many of the same members of Congress who now act aghast at such polices, including liberals like Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., were apprised of the methods being utilized on a regular basis while Bush was in office. So if Bush officials are going to be dragged before a political kangaroo court, Pelosi and crew should be sat in the defendants’ seats as well.
This is political grandstanding in its most despicable and contemptible form, because it isn’t just votes at stake, but lives. And the mere discussion of truth commissions and potential prosecutions has already harmed our nation by chilling future policies that could protect us.
Obama should have jumped at the opportunity to quash any speculation about pursuing these avenues, which would have demonstrated actual leadership rather than pandering to his self-loathing, morally bankrupt base.
Instead, he did what he has done his entire career: He acted like a politician, and, as such, he left the door open to a political sideshow.
Obama said we lost “our moral bearings” with use of harsh interrogation tactics. Yet, he thinks we owe repentance to the Muslim world and mutual respect to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez, while consistently berating a predecessor who sought to preserve both our laws and American lives.
He doles out aid to terrorists in Gaza, but wants to cut funding for a missile defense program that could protect our allies. And he wants to raise taxes on millions of Americans while subsidizing delinquent homeowners.
How are those for moral bearings? Welcome to Obama’s America.
Brett Joshpe is co-author of “Why You're Wrong About the Right: Behind the Myths: The Surprising Truth About Conservatives,” and is general counsel of The American Civics Exchange.
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