Thursday, July 26, 2018

Give Me a 'C'

         "Give me an 'I'."
         "Give me an 'A'.."
         "Now, what have you got?"
         "Eh, well, I'm not exactly sure. Hmm, a C and an I and an A. Sounds familiar... Wait a minute! I think I remember. That sounds like the group that told Kennedy that if he got a bunch of guys together and landed in Cuba, Bay of Porcupines, I think they called it..."
         "Bay of Pigs."
         "Right, Bay of Pigs. Anyway they told him if he landed a small army there, the whole population of the country would rise up and they'd be rid of Castro once and for all.
         "And weren't those the same guys who were always telling us how we had to stop the Commies in Vietnam or next thing they'd be landing in San Francisco?"
         "Who knew they'd be coming from Beverly Hills and Bel Air and Malibu and...?"
         "Hey, you get bored making 40 million bucks for six month's work. Got to think of something to do with your time."
         "And then they figured out that Sadam Hussein was making all those WMD's so we better get busy destroying all those power plants and water treatment plants and hospitals and..."
         "Well, now wait a minute. That's not fair. Everybody in the world thought he was making those things and that we better get busy wiping them, and him, out."
        "Now you wait a minute, wait a minute.It's their job to figure out all the things the rest of the world thinks is going on. Otherwise, what do we need those guys for?"
         "By the way, who are we talking about here anyway?"
         "I'll give you a hint, 'Too many cooks spoil the broth.'"
         "The Culinary Institute of America?"

*Note: A second opinion is pretty much always a good idea, whether it's from your chef or your doctor or even your intelligence service. Getting one doesn't make you a 'traitor.' Not ever.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Is Torture Unconstitutional?

        The only mention the Constitution actually makes of behavior resembling torture is found in the 8th Amendment  which prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment." That's it, cruel and unusual punishment. It's the only form of torture that the Constitution specifically prohibits.
        And 'punishment' has a specific meaning. It means retribution or penalty for some act that's already been committed,
        In other words, the Constitution prohibits torture when it's used as a form of punishment but, if you know where that bomb is hidden or where those kidnappers are hanging out, or we think you might know, trying to get some information from you is not 'punishment' and the Constitution is silent on what we can do to you.
        Severe pain, electric shocks, waterboarding, whatever. Think it's immoral or unethical to do that kind of stuff? Well, ok. Think what you like but the Constitution doesn't prohibit it no matter what you've been told. It's almost as though the Constitution was written by folks who were thinking about what they would do if their own kids were taken or there was evidence that a bomb was going to be planted in their behinds.

        And finally, while it is nevertheless true that virtually all international treaties continue to prohibit all forms of torture, it is also true that we can withdraw from these treaties a lot more easily than we can amend the Constitution. Maybe something to sit down...and think about some time..