The Constitution of the United States is absolutely clear when it comes to matters of torture.
Amendment 8 specifically states that,”Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
Acts of torture are by definition and common understanding — certainly at the time of the drafting of the nation’s essential document and arguably even in this less-enlightened era — cruel and unusual punishments
Vice President Dick Cheney, when he assumed the second most powerful office in the land after the disputed election of 2000, swore an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
Any reasonable reader of that oath would conclude that Cheney bound himself to abide by the Constitution — and thus to avoid any involvement with the promotion of acts of torture upon detainees of the United States government.
Yet we now know from revelations made by former senior intelligence officials to ABC News and the Associated Press that Cheney and other members of the administration — who apparently took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods were discussed — authorized the use of waterboarding and other generally recognized torture techniques.
There is no question that Cheney violated his oath of office, which bound him to support and defend a Constitution that he disregarded.
The question is: How will responsible Americans respond?
The power to hold Cheney to account rests with Congress.
The power to get Congress to act rests with the American people.
Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, a respected lawyer who has been working with a number of other Constitutional experts and activists, has responded — not just to Cheney’s trashing of the Constitution but to the long list of Bush administration wrongs.
Anderson is circulating a letter that reads:
As patriotic Americans, we believe in knowing the truth about our government. Regardless of political affiliation, we believe in our constitutional democracy. We believe in the rule of law – that no person, regardless of position, is above the law.
We believe in respecting basic human rights – and have been proud to distinguish our nation from those countries where people are kidnapped, disappeared, and tortured.