GOP Debate Reveals Depraved and Deluded Political Class
(Future of Freedom Foundation) -- by Tim Kelly --
The most recent GOP foreign policy debate revealed the depraved and deluded state of America’s political class. There was a time when U.S. presidents sought plausible deniability for things like torture and assassination; now such sordid practices are openly supported by candidates seeking the country’s highest elected office.
Several candidates were asked their opinion regarding waterboarding. Herman Cain said that he was against torture, but that he believed waterboarding to be an “enhanced interrogation technique” and therefore permissible. Michele Bachmann indicated she would authorize waterboarding. Rick Perry also supported it, saying, “This is war. That’s what happens in war. And I am for using the techniques, not torture, but using those techniques that we know will extract the information to save young American lives. And I will be for it until I die.”
Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman, to their credit, came out unequivocally against waterboarding, with Paul calling it illegal and immoral. When asked directly what he thought constituted torture, Paul said “waterboarding is torture.”
Paul is correct. Waterboarding is torture. It is an interrogation technique that causes severe pain in the form of reflexive choking and gagging. Subjects are strapped to a board, and their heads are covered. Water is then poured over their faces. The subjects cannot breathe through the mouth or nose, and death will occur if the procedure is not interrupted.
Now, torture is illegal under U.S. and international law. It is also banned by the Geneva Convention on Torture, a treaty to which the United States is a signatory. President Ronald Reagan signed it in 1988, and the U.S. Senate ratified it in 1994; it therefore has the force of law in the United States. By advocating an interrogation technique which is clearly torture, Cain, Perry, and Bachmann are supporting the violation of the very law they would be sworn to uphold should one of them win the presidency.
When the subject of assassination came up, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich signaled their strong support. Gingrich elaborated, “If you engage in war against the United States, you are an enemy combatant. You have none of the civil liberties in the United States, you cannot go to court."
On this point, Gingrich is simply wrong. When an American citizen is accused of waging war against the United States, he stands accused of treason. Treason is specifically mentioned in the Constitution under article III, section 3, which reads, “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”
The mere accusation of treason (or terrorism) does not relieve government officials of their obligation to abide by the law, which requires due process.
Romney and Gingrich are essentially supporting the position taken by the Obama administration, which asserts that the executive branch has the authority to kill any person they claim is a really bad person (i.e., “enemy combatant” or “terrorist”) without having to go through the inconvenience and expense of following the Constitution.
Paul condemned the policy of assassinating alleged terrorists and pointed out the cognitive dissonance afflicting those who think the government shouldn’t run the health-care system, yet somehow believe it should be entrusted with the power to kill U.S. citizens without due process. As Paul said, “You want to live within the law and obey the law. Because otherwise, it's going to be very bad for all of us.”...MORE...LINK