Because the torture of prisoners by the CIA enrages me, and because my own Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Intel Committee, has done little or nothing to address it, I have taken to calling GOP members of both the house and Senate Intel Committees with a couple of questions.
When the staffer answers, I explain that I am not a constituent, but that I am calling in regard to the congresscritter's seat on one of the Intel Committees.
I start by asking whether the critter supports the Second Amendment. Of course he or she does, emphatically. Okay, I say, what about the Eighth Amendment Does he or she support it as vigorously?
The staffer generally does not even remember what the Eighth Amendment is about.
More after the squiggle.
Knowing that it is a trick question, the staffer stalls, so I help out.
"The Eighth Amendment is the one that says the CIA can't torture prisoners."
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.At this point the conversation goes one of two ways. The first is that the staffer has no statement by the critter on that Amendment. I become incredulous. "Are you telling me that you don't know whether your boss, a sitting member of Congress, supports the Constitution?"
I invoke my Army service in 1966, "As a member of the US Army, I swore to defend the Constitution against all enemies, domestic and foreign. Are you saying that you don't know whether the critter meets the same patriotic standard as every member of the Armed Forces?"
The staffer hastens to assure me that the critter does in fact support the Constitution. I point out that he or she has failed to defend the Eighth Amendment, since the Intel Committee is charged with oversight of the CIA, and CIA officials have no qualms about admitting to torture related activities in public.
"So you are saying then that even though the critter is sworn to defend the Constitution, and even though the people he or she oversees have been committing monstrous violations, he or she has taken no action to bring them to justice?" Any resistance to that statement is met by my request for an example of the critter's opposition to torture. I never get one.
Sometimes the staffer will respond that the critter does in fact support the Eighth Amendment, in which case the conversation starts at the paragraph above.
Having squeezed a concession out of the staffer that the critter supports the Constitution, I leave them with this: "What do you call someone who says one thing, and does exactly the opposite, as your boss seems to have done?"
I get free long distance on my cell phone and I use it. I call Washington offices and local offices. If anyone reading this cares about torture as passionately as I do, feel free to call members of both Intel committees and use this conversational template (for entertainment purposes only).