Tuesday, September 20, 2011

That torture is rightly outlawed

Here is a simple note I wrote about torture to the Denver Post. It is, I think, clear enough. But in book 26, of De l’esprit des lois (The Spirit of the Laws), Montesquieu wrote ironically of the burning of a Jewish teenage girl by the Inquisition in Lisbon, “when one says things so clear and simple, one is sure never to convince.” For a longer post on the protest and the eloquent letter of the University of Colorado at Denver political science department, see here.

Torture By Any Other Name Still Unconstitutional

Re: “Ex-U.S. AG gives speech amid shouts,” Sept. 9 news story.

Your article missed the issue of the protest against former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, which is not a partisan matter. International law, notably the Convention against Torture, which President Reagan signed, outlaws torture under any circumstances. By Article 6, Section 2, of the Constitution, the Supremacy Clause, treaties signed by the U.S. become the highest law of the land.

The reason that Gonzalez does not face hearings is not that the case against leading Bush administration officials is weak. On the contrary, it is because what is already in the public record is very likely sufficient enough to convict a number of them that President Obama has forbidden hearings. Those officials cannot travel abroad or they face arrest.

Under American law, an official cannot escape a charge of murder by renaming it. The same goes for the crime of so-called “enhanced interrogations.”

Alan Gilbert, Morrison

The writer is an international studies professor at the University of Denver.
This letter was published in the Sept. 16 edition.

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