Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Rights

There's been much talk since the release of the Abu Ghraib photographs about the protections offered by the Geneva Conventions, and who is eligible to enjoy those protections in American custody. This article in the New York Times yesterday explores yet another Bush administration legal opinion that discovers daylight between American prisoners and their rights.

America shouldn't need a convention or a treaty or an agreement to tell us how to treat prisoners. Common decency should dictate that prisoners will have their rights, as alluded to in our Declaration of Independence, and as enumerated in our Constitution, recognized and protected in captivity.

Undoubtedly, there will be carping about how the Constitution protects American citizens, not America's enemies, purported and actual, and perhaps, in legal circles, this conclusion is well justified. But in the words of the great Walt Kelly, through his proxy Pogo, "law and justice ain't always compatible".

The spirit of America's founders breathes most vitally in the idea that rights are not granted, but that they inhere in the individual. Rights can be recognized or violated, but they are not to be trifled with, casually discarded for the needs of the moment. The founders recognized rights during wartime, when the nation struggled to be born, when every act of independence was treason, meriting the bloodiest penalties the English crown could devise.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights
. These words rang out across the Earth in a time of peril for a nascent America, and America makes itself smaller and meaner with every incremental step away from the promise she once held out: that there is a place on Earth, and a people, who believe that no one can be justly stripped of his rights, a place where might must bow to right, a state of liberty to which the rest of the world can aspire.

With every prisoner denied the rights recognized and protected by our Constitution, America pounds one more nail into the coffin of those aspirations. I call upon all our citizens to repudiate the men who would take the shining beacon of this country and conceal it beneath a bushel crafted of fear.

1 Comments:

Blogger Reductio said...

The administration's actions with respect to human rights, especially torture and the Geneva Conventions, raises the question of war crimes. I think it is safe to say that there is sufficient cause to potentially convene a war crimes trial for the administration, especially Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Ashcroft and the Wolf. There may or may not be enough evidence to convict (I'll leave it to the reader to determine my opinion on that question) but certainly ample reason to convene.

In light of the fact that ANY NATION ON EARTH has the legal right to prosecute such crimes, I wonder if it will be safe for Bush and crew to travel abroad once they are out of power (Which will hopefully be January).

8:52 AM  

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