Friday, December 19, 2014

Amnesty, torture, and the rule of law

Some people act as if US immigration laws were written on two stone tablets delivered to Washington DC by Moses himself. If you have any discussion with them about the rights of immigrants or farms suffering from labor shortages, and they'll fall back on the argument that "the law is the law."

But the highest law in the US is the Constitution. Article 2, Section 2 gives the President the power to pardon anyone he likes. He can release someone from federal prison, he can stop the FBI from arresting someone, and he can let people stay in this country.

Bad laws can be ignored altogether, even while they remain on the books. Men are still legally required to register for the draft at age 18, but not one man has been prosecuted for failing to register in 30 years. So I may have wasted a trip to the post office.

Laws should be enforced if they still have merit. Unfortunately, there are some very good laws that get overlooked by the government as well. This country has some laws against torture. Recently, it has been revealed that CIA employees and contractors have been violating those laws.

I really don't see how torture has any value as a interrogation technique. Ask a man a question, and he'll give you an answer. Torture him, and he'll give you a different answer. If you had any way of determining which answer was true, you wouldn't need to torture him in the first place. Maybe other regimes have better luck with the practice. But these countries are better at keeping secrets, and they aren't exactly the types of regimes that we should want to emulate. Torture leads to bad PR for America on the world stage. If we talk about boycotting Iran or Russia for human rights violations, they can make the same claims about us. We should seriously consider moving out of our glass house before throwing rocks.

If you really care about the rule of law in this country, then you should be more concerned about torture (a felony) than illegal immigration (a civil violation).

No comments: