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Dangerous Executive Orders

By David Swanson

The Center for Constitutional Rights has expressed concern that President Obama's executive order banning torture may contain a loophole. But no president has any right to declare torture legal or illegal, with or without loopholes. And if we accept that presidents have such powers, even if our new president does good with them, then loopholes will be the least of our worries.

Torture is, and has long been, illegal in every case, without exception. It is banned by our Bill of Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 2340A. Nothing any president can do can change this or unchange it, weaken it or strengthen it in any way.

Preventing torture does not require new legislation from Congress or new orders from a new president. It requires enforcing existing laws. In fact, adherence to the Convention Against Torture, which under Article VI of our Constitution is the supreme law of the land, requires the criminal prosecution of torturers and anyone complicit in torture.

Most of the seemingly noble steps taken by Congress in recent years and by President Obama in his first week have served to disguise the fact that torture always was, still is, and shall continue to be illegal.

In 2005, John McCain championed the McCain Detainee Amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill for 2005, which passed the Congress and was signed into law by President Bush. This was yet another law banning torture. It was not needed, but no harm done, right? Wrong. Passing laws like this serves to create the illusion that torture was previously legal. And that allows the new laws to create exceptions. In fact, McCain allowed a major loophole for the CIA. And that would have been bad enough. But President Bush tacked on a "signing statement" throwing out the entire ban on torture. So, with Congress trying to ban torture, and the president eliminating the ban, people could hardly be blamed for believing torture was legal.

President Bush also signed executive orders and ordered the creation of legal opinions claiming that torture was legal. President Obama's new order revokes one of Bush's. But Obama has no more right to undo the legalization of torture than Bush had to legalize it in the first place. Only Congress has or should have the power to legislate. Obama's new order requires adherence to laws, rather than claiming the right to violate them, and yet there is a wide gap between publishing an order requiring adherence to the laws and actually enforcing the laws by indicting violators.

The same order that President Obama uses to ban torture also orders the closure of all CIA detention facilities. Congress never authorized the creation of such things in the first place. Ordering their closure is the right thing to do. But if a president can give the order to close them, what is to prevent another president giving the order to reopen them? The answer should be all of the laws and treaties violated.

Obama's executive order largely orders the government to cease violating various laws. But in so doing, rather than strengthening the laws, the new president weakens them almost to the point of nonexistence. For, what power does a law have to control behavior if it is never enforced? What deterrent value can be found in a law the violation of which results merely in a formal order to begin obeying it? And what status are we supposed to give all the other violated laws for which no such formal orders have been given?

Rather than picking certain of Bush's unconstitutional executive orders or signing statements to revoke, leaving the others in apparent need of revocation, President Obama should simply announce that he will not give any consideration to any past orders or statements that claim the right to legalize the illegal. And the new attorney general should appoint a special prosecutor to indict and prosecute the previous president, vice president, and all top officials who violated laws.


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Barack Obama; better than Bush, but not as good as everybody thinks he is. Mostly he is just another god damn politician.

Allready he is killing innocent civilians in Pakistan? If we know that a wanted killer is in a certain restaurant in this country, we do not drop a thousand pound bomb on the restaurant and kill everybody in the restaurant to get one dangerous fugitive; so why do we do that in Pakistan, Iraq or Afgnistan or anywhere else?

Criminals, and thats what terrorists are, are brought to justice by police work, intelligence work, and infilterating their organizations, not by military operations. It is long, hard, frustrating and dangerous work but thats why they are paid the big bucks.

Our present strategy for going after terrorists can be summed up as how to make enemies and drive away friends.

What if every time the police thought there was a dangerous criminal in a building, they called in airplanes to bomb it? A few other people would get killed in the attack, but what the hey -- they were with a criminal or at least in the same building.

Such behavior is the definition of insanity. And it is criminal in and of itself.

So great news, we can add Obama's name to the war crimes trial list, right?
Thank you Thank you Thank you. A person with some sense!

Since this will be the absolute last time I ever address you, or anyone that acts like you, I just want to suggest to anyone else here, to ignore this clown. You only pay compliment by bantering with this monkey and it gets nothing done but disrespect this Website. So, if anyone chooses to keep exchanging pleasantries, insults or the time of day with this simian, count me off of your correspondence list. In other words, if you keep playing footsies with this fool, don't talk to me and expect a response. Fair (and last) Warning

Whereas, we of ADS shall hereby ignore said bozo aka "jojo" and all other similar characterizations thereof. So it is written, so it is done! GAVEL ~ :-)

ARREST BUSHCO & RICO PNAC/FARA AIPAC...PNAC is Bush/Cheney's "Helter Skelter" !


Ok Ok this will be the last time I write knowing that after that SMACK DOWN Robin gave you guys.

I've had fun

Good Luck and Peace Out

What monkey are you talking about and what did they do. I am confused and want to know what to watch out for if anything Chris Dorsey, RVA4Peace

... goes on a site, like say this one, and attempts to disrupt communication by changing the topic or inciting arguments on other issues... and no matter how much you try, that individual will never listen, will never learn, will never even attempt civil discourse about the topic. They will just try one strawman argument after the next. If you go to McCain's old site, they had links to popular "progressive" sites and suggested their people go there to "insert" "facts" about McCain's policies. The same is true for lots of republican sites now. Also, the military has an internet campaign underway, as does the Israeli PR machine. Trolls just try to distract threads and are therefore just a waste of time.

Howevever it is hard to argue that at least several war crimes were commited this week with Obama as comander and chief. I thought that was what jojo was saying as always i may be wrong. chris Dorsey, RVA4Peace

It's just the totality of his comments you have to look at. Plus, this new thing for them is just the same "But Clinton did it tooooooo.." variation.

Here is a classic example of a troll everyone who cares ...

EdgemanLL2 on this thread:

Is a classic case ... even I stopped talking to him ....

Hell he's probably in the cubical next to MoJo JoJo there ....

had to iterate that "we don't torture" is damning in and of itself. If we don't then why even mention it? I hope Barack realizes that he's at a fork in the river right now, and if he doesn't choose the right path and ignores what the worlds already knows, it's just going to get worse. The news is met with skepticism and doubt by more and more people and there will be a total disconnect if the truth doesn't come out. We have to somehow shame the press into reporting the facts in the traditional adversarial yet truthful way that they used to be known for (knowing that the NSA is monitoring them probably doesn't lend confidence to their job security either). Money (and being blackmailed out of employment) has replaced integrity as the news anchor's ultimate goal. As is typical of most every endeavor, a black (half & half, whatever) man has to outperform a white man to get the same respect, be it sports, academics, science or what have you. POTUS Obama has a very fine needle to thread and it's a certainty that a rethug black president would have went over a lot easier in this country, considering the necon agenda that's been embedded so deep (look at Powell and Rice for perfect examples of "house niggers" (yeah, well I'm Chickasaw, so bite me)). From reading a post via 2005 to DK, I'm certain Barack is a progressive and I think he's wise enough not to try turning this ship too abruptly in order not to alarm the sheep and the reichwing. His actions, I believe, will be a subtle agreeing with the fanged ones, but doing what he wants anyway. There's wisdom in this strategy as it's far easier to push a stone than to strike it into moving. Pure physics.

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