Consider the “American” continent, circa 82 B.C.:
And now behold, I say unto you, that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges. … Now the object of these lawyers was to get gain; and they got gain according to their employ (Book of Mormon Alma 10:27, 32).Consider Palestine, circa 30’s A.D.:
Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also. And he [Jesus] said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. … Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered (New Testament Luke 11:45-52).I do not fault all lawyers and judges for some are truly casting bungees after us as fast as they can, but two recent events highlighting unbelievable tragedies of injustice and exculpation come to mind.
Jay S. Bybee and John Yoo, former Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) lawyers and authors of the infamous torture memos, were exonerated of professional misconduct (and its severe consequences) by a finding of “poor judgment.” That lesser finding by DOJ Associate Deputy AG David Margolis was against the recommendation of his very own Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). The Margolis decision is long and legalistic as it searchs for exoneration and lesser accountability. Margolis finds excuse in a veritable Jack Baur 24/7 justification replay of “context,” “necessity,” and “defense of others”! An incredible Pandora’s folly in a world where context, necessity, and self-defense/defense of others will forever rationalize torture and forever goad the terrorizing foe into greater resolve—both sides engaged in an endless competitive race to “do unto them before they do unto us”!
And how strange that U.S. SERE-training2 (based on much maligned torture techniques of totalitarian regimes and mad “scientists”) should become the model for our “enhancements.”3 How ironic that inhumane torments that extracted false confessions from American POWs have been crafted into tortures for “extracting truth” by 21st century “freedom fighters”! How “collateral” the nearly 100 detainee deaths4 in a system asserting that “no lasting mental [or physical] harm results from the use of the proposed procedures?!”5 And how, in the name of integrity, did we legalese ourselves around THIS!
18 U.S.C. Section 2340 (1) makes it a criminal offense for any person "outside of the United States [to] commit or attempt to commit torture." Section 2340(1) defines torture as:What do these contortions and exonerations say to the world? Where is the rule of law? Where truth and justice?6 Where was the Moran Report of 1943 on “Truth Extraction”?7 What is the state now of a revered Constitution?8
an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control. [As quoted in the Bybee memo, p. 9.]
And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me. Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land; And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil. I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free. Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn. Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil. And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, ... (Doctrine and Covenants Section 98:5-11, emphasis added).A finding of “poor judgment” to excuse “legalese-ing” of this magnitude and consequence is, in my view, a great American tragedy in a growing accumulation of them (See Memo ... ).
CITIZENS UNITED, APPELLANT v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION: a decision of crafted rationality in a 5/4 split by the supreme judges of the land—a decision freeing corporate wealth to freely speak from general funds. A decision massaged to appear as championing freedom, but in practicality and power deeply corrosive to representative democracy.
“Terrible judgment” is the essential analysis of Justice John Paul Stevens10 in his lengthy dissenting opinion. Considering the magnitude of this decision, it is worth the read, especially the dissenting opinion. Here are two excerpts from Justice Stevens:
“We have repeatedly sustained legislation aimed at ‘the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth that are accumulated with the help of the corporate form and that have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas.’” (p. 49)Thus, whoa! woe! whoa! to the course of our affairs—where nothing seems to mean what it is meant to mean—from Clinton’s “it depends on what the meaning of is, IS;” to “torture” memos; to “poor” justifications; to free-speech rights for multinational corporations (aka, legal-fictions) in American politics and elections.
"At bottom, the Court’s [majority] opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics." (p. 90)
How déjà vu the Orwellian Ministries of Truth and Justice! How invasive and powerful the voice of mammon!
2. SERE-training (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterboarding
3. See The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals by Jane Mayer, © 2008, p. 159-164
5. “Furthermore, although [redacted] indicated that surveys of students having completed this training are not done, he expressed confidence that the training did not cause any long-term psychological impact. He based his conclusion on the debriefing of students that is done after the training.” (Bybee Memo: Aug. 1, 2002, p. 5). http://luxmedia.vo.llnwd.net/o10/clients/aclu/olc_08012002_bybee.pdf . Interesting how debriefing can substitute for long-term research!
7. http://www.w-z.com/articles/article023.pdf; http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200506/budiansky
8. And how terribly ironic that members of my faith played such key roles in these tragedies. Lawyers: Jay S. Bybee and Steven G. Bradbury (Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Bybee; Timothy E. Flanigan, (White House Counsel’s Office), see Jane Mayer, The Dark Side … p. 50 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Flanigan. Re Mormon psychologists James Elmer Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, see Mayer, p. 156-163. Also see, http://psychoanalystsopposewar.org/blog/2009/04/30/the-mnormon-connection-to-us-torture/; http://christyhardinsmith.firedoglake.com/2009/04/16/olc-relied-on-sere-psych-info-for-no-long-term-harm/
9. U.S. Supreme Court No. 08–205 CITIZENS UNITED, APPELLANT v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA [January 21, 2010] JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court. http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf
10. Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford in 1975.