During this past week I have become very frustrated with what I have read in the comment sections of various news articles relating to the release of the torture documents. So many people have taken the stance essentially that torture is okay. Further, even more people have stated the position that the United States Constitution only applies to American citizens. It continues to amaze me how we are within the age of information and yet we can easily have our opinion swayed by a false argument whether it comes from mainstream media, our elected officials, our priest or minister, our friends and neighbors or even educators. One thing is for sure most people haven’t read the United States Constitution in a long time
Every single day in our society people who are not citizens of the United States are properly afforded due process in a number of areas. The best example of this is another polarizing subject: Immigration. Every single day a person is arrested on the allegation that they have entered this country illegally. Every single time this happens these people are afforded due process of law. The probable cause for the arrest itself is that there is a belief that the person entered the country illegally. Based upon this probable cause they are formally charged. There are also times when they are charged with other crimes and allegations based upon whatever behaviors are relevant to that person. More often times than not the immigration process is dominated by people who are charged with entering the country illegally. Then they are afforded a process. Due process of law. This process is granted to millions of immigrants and that is common knowledge throughout our society. In this instance it is immigration law and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Criminal procedure and even appellate procedure that govern the process. Perhaps the people who are making the comments stating that the Constitution only applies to American citizens do not realize that this is happening. However, I have no desire to figure out why people think the way they do.
No person shall be deprived. The list is long. Of course the main parts are life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. As a society we insist on stating that we are the shining light. That we are also the land of justice. That we are the civilized nation of the world. But in my observation what is forgotten and, should always be included with these kinds of statements, is that we are a nation of laws and not men. We continue to discard the United States Constitution and our rule of law so easily on a daily basis that it’s almost as if it does not exist. Our elected officials certainly display a blatant disregard for it. So why shouldn’t we as a society mention it? We should all understand the protections clearly outlined in our founding rule of law.
Just recently our wonderful Congress violated the Constitution a number of times within the omnibus bill and also, with their recent expansion of the NSA spying that is going on in this country. In the past 30 years our elected officials have continually disregarded the basic premise of the Constitution more times than I can count. The War Powers act that was passed under Pres. Nixon began a serious trend to the expansion of the Executive branch of our government that clearly was never intended by the Founding Fathers nor was it endorsed anywhere in the actual language of the Constitution. Congress has passed laws that literally say, within the law, that constitutional protections will not apply within the circumstances of that law. The Patriot Act and the Indefinite Detention provision of the NDAA are the two most egregious examples of this behavior.
Recent events involving the deaths of a number of people at the hands of our police have also shown a disregard to the due process and equal protection clauses of our Constitution. We have become a society that at a minimum acquiesces to this kind of behavior by our government at every level. I remember watching the Rodney King video in 1992 appalled by what I was seeing. What troubled me even more were the arguments going on throughout the nation about what we were looking at in the video.
I understand the anger of 9/11. My cousin was killed on that dreadful day. I went and visited the site about a month later. Walked up to the barricade and looked at a raging fire that was still burning. One month later. I watched the Towers being built when I was growing up. My nephew worked in the Towers and I spent that day looking for him not realizing that he had refused to go back to work in the Towers after the first bombing a decade previous. I’m a veteran. I joined the service because we had hostages in Iran. I understand that side of it.
I also grew up listening to stories on the news or reading articles in the papers about incidents that happened in Vietnam which were similar to the atrocities contained within the torture report. We did not stand for it back then nor should we tolerate such cruelty now.
I love this country I love the people in it. And I can tell you honestly that part of my love for this country has to do with the fact that our laws demand Justice as a foundation. That we protect the rights of human beings simply because they are human beings. That is the kind of shining light that I think about when I talk about the United States of America. It’s that simple for me.