Just yesterday I received an e-mail from the ACLU mentioning that George W. Bush may very well give Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, and others who are or have been in his administration something known as a Preemptive Pardon. When I read this, I said to myself, “Preemptive? WTF!?!”
What rational explanation can justify the granting of immunity by a sitting President to a person who has not yet been convicted nor even formally charged with a crime? It sounds ridiculous, yet it seems to have been acted upon once already… when Gerald Ford granted Richard Nixon a presidential pardon before he had been convicted or even formally charged with the Watergate crimes.
Doesn’t this go against core American values of justice and due process? And isn’t it implicit that by allowing high-ranking officials to evade accountability for undermining the Constitution and violating the law will give a “Get Out Of Jail” pass to future public officials who commit high crimes against the people of the world, or against the interests of the American People? Maybe I’m naive, but doesn’t this define a certain powerful segment of the upper tier of our society as above the law? And how can a sitting president project his will into a succeeding president’s term, effectively nullifying the possibility of an investigation into past activities or bringing up charges against a former official?
Let me remind the reader that several officers in this administration, including the President himself, could easily be accused and tried for crimes such as subterfuge, libel, misrepresentation, torture, illegal wiretapping, and even treason under our own Federal laws. And though it would require a great act of political courage by our President Elect, Barack Obama, followed by the tying up our courts for a good whi a series of independent investigations are under way, would most certainly send a precedent to all future public officials and elected representative that they ARE accountable to their actions.
There are so many questions that need answers, such as “Was there tampering and/or fraud committed during the 2000 and 2004 elections?” Or, “Were any of the Bush Administration or American Neo-Conservatives involved with the planning, goings-on, or suppression of information that led to 9/11? And what about war crimes and crimes against humanity, as it is understood under the Geneva Convention and the International Criminal Court?
The Geneva Convention, which was ratified by the U.S., and is therefore as applicable as our own laws, is explicit in that it prohibits torture, the use of “violence,” “cruel treatment” or “humiliating and degrading treatment” against a detainee “at any time and in any place whatsoever.” The War Crimes Act of 1996 made any grave breach of those restrictions a U.S. felony.
This preemptive perversion of the Presidential Pardon would enable Bush to prevent any future criminal investigation into his administration’s activities. Though interestingly, through accepting a pardon, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and so on would be, by default, admitting their guilt.
In an editorial by The New York Times, it stated:
“The Bush administration distorted statutes and case law to legally justify interrogation techniques that had long been considered torture under domestic and international law. It relied on sloppy or aggressive legal analysis as a basis for evading judicial review of a warrantless wiretapping program. It has at every turn chosen the most expansive interpretation of the law to rationalize indefinite detentions and deny federal court review to those in custody. It has, in short, determined its preferred course of action first and then stitched together absurd readings of the law to defend those choices.”
With regard to torture, to outline the laws broken by our public officials, I offer the following information…
– Dick Cheney, the sitting Vice President, orchestrated the use of torture, secret prisons, and detention without charge. The vice president’s office played a central role in eliminating limits on coercion in U.S. custody, and created a distinction between forbidden “torture” and the use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading” methods of questioning which they advanced as permissible.
– Donald Rumsfeld, the former Secretary of Defense, authorized the use of abusive interrogation methods at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base and Abu Ghraib. These methods included abuse, humiliation, torture, sodomy, and homicide.
– John Ashcroft, the former US Attorney General, reportedly participated in National Security Council meetings authorizing specific forms of abuse on specific prisoners, and approved Office of Legal Counsel torture memoranda.
– George Tenet, forner Director of the CIA, oversaw the Extraordinary Rendition Program (the extrajudicial transfer of a person from one state to another, particularly with regard to the alleged transfer of suspected terrorists to countries known to torture prisoners or to employ harsh interrogation techniques that may rise to the level of torture), as well as the abusive interrogation methods, including waterboarding, by CIA officials.
– John Yoo, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, authored memos that tried to provide a legal basis for the torture and abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody.
– Alberto Gonzales, the former White House Counsel, chaired discussions about the authorization of specific forms of torture and abuse, and urged the president not to apply the Geneva Conventions to many of the detainees.
– Condoleeza Rice, the current Secretary of State, chaired the National Security Council meetings reportedly authorizing specific forms of abuse on specific prisoners.
In my opinion, this should be fought against, tooth and nail, by the American People. Then, there should be clear and rigorous conditions placed on the whens, hows, and limitations of a Presidential Pardon.
The pardon should be made available to correct judicial error, not used for the sake of political expediency or to absolve an administration’s criminal activities.
And now the big question… if these and the many other accusations against the Bush Administration (especially those of fraudulent election activity and/or involvement with 911) are found to be true in a court of law, would it not be prudent to retroactively nullify the many laws and appointments that this administration has made?
What do you think?
Sources include the ACLU’s letter and citations from Wikipedia