Dear President Obama;
I wanted to take the occasion of Presidents Day to write to you. Today is the day we celebrate the birthdays of two of our all time great presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
It is fitting that we celebrate the first of our presidents and the president who held the Union together and ended the pernicious practice of human slavery. These men stand as examples of what America can be and should be.
"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"
It is with regret that I can not add your name to the list of great presidents. There is no doubt your election and presidency are historic, but where Washington and Lincoln are both famous for standing for the rule of law and the Constitution, your administration seems to sadly lacking in that regard.
Mr. President, there is an issue that you have consciously ignored, the issue of the Bush Administration’s torture program. As someone involved in politics and activism I completely grasp the level of acrimony you would experience from the Republicans and the conservatives of this nation if you fully investigate the ordering and carrying out of torture.
There is no doubt your political opponents would seize on this and call it a political witch-hunt. They would use it against every Democrat in the nation this fall, as well as using it as an excuse to oppose your agenda for the rest of your term.
Yet, Mr. President, this should not matter to you. You took the same oath as Washington and Lincoln to defend and protect the Constitution of the Untied States from all enemies foreign and domestic.
The Constitution can not be protected by allowing members of a previous administration to order and carry out war crimes (which torture clearly is both under the Geneva Conventions and the International Conventions Against Torture) and then brag about them with impunity.
On ABC’s "This Week" former Vice President Cheney admitted to not only being part of the decision making in ordering torture but said:
KARL: ... waterboarding, clearly, what was your...
CHENEY: I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques that...
Mr. President allowing Mr. Cheney to claim to be a "big supporter" of a Federal and war crime without consequence undermines the rule of law and the Constitution. Those who think that anything is legal in the name of national security will be able to point to this example for generations if you do not act.
I know that you want to restore the Untied States place in the opinion of the world. This is important for the good we can do, but also for the practical matter that it makes us safer. Still, merely ordering an end to torture is not even close to enough. We must take the lead in investigating and where crimes were committed prosecuting those who ordered and carried out war crimes.
To fail to do so not only puts our country in the grave jeopardy of using torture again under a less principled administration, it leaves a large black mark on the United States ability to call for the adherence to international law and norms.
Investigating the previous administration is a hard thing to ask of any president. It has never had to be done before. Still, there had never been a United States to govern before President Washington did it. There was never a civil war that had to be fought nor the nation re-united before President Lincoln did it.
This one of the challenges you face, President Obama, yet it is the hardest challenges that determine if a president is great, merely adequate or a failure. Please, sir, I ask you as a citizen, reach for that greatness. Do not let political concerns lead you to a place where you give up the example the United States can be.
Order Attorney General Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor who will investigate the actions of the Department of Justice, the Executive Branch, the Department of Defense and the CIA in regards to the justifying, ordering and carrying out of torture. Let those who believe they have a legal justification argue it in court, and let the verdicts of those courts stand. This is the best way you can defend and protect the Constitution.