t r u t h o u t | 01.23
To Support and Defend: A Message to US Senators and Representatives
Friday 23 January 2009
by: Phillip Butler, Ph.D., t r u t h o u t | Perspective
"I, Phillip Neal Butler, having been appointed a Midshipman in the United States Navy, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter, so help me God." (Oath of Office, July 1, 1957.)
Upon graduation from the
This Oath of Office, the same one sworn to by all officers, government officials, presidential cabinet members, senators and representatives of our nation, has had a powerful effect on me. It has given me an over-arching purpose in life: to serve the greatest and most influential legal document ever written. The only different oath is specified for the president of the
So, what in the world has happened during the past eight years of the George W. Bush administration? The only defensible answer is that he and his subordinates have trampled our precious Constitution and the rule of law into the ground, while our elected members of Congress have stood idly and complicitly by. Our highest elected officials have utterly failed in their duty of greatest responsibility.
During these years, we have seen gross attempts to institutionalize torture. Our Constitution, Article VI, (2), commonly known as the "Supremacy" clause, clearly states that treaties made shall become "the supreme law of the land," thus elevating them to the level of constitutional law.
The Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, ratified in 1949, states in Article 17, "No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind." This and numerous other ratified treaties clearly stipulate that "prisoners" is an inclusive term that is not limited to any nation's uniformed combatants.
Other gross Bush administration crimes, in addition to authorizing torture, of general and constitutional law include: 1) the use of "signing statements" to illegally refrain from complying with laws, 2) authorization of the illegal suspension of Habeas Corpus, 3) authorization of wire tapping and other intrusive methods to illegally spy on American citizens, 4) unilateral declaration and pre-emptive conduct of war in violation of US Constitution Article I, Section 8 (11).
These violations of our Constitution and rule of law have resulted in reducing our nation to the level of international pariah. Our beacon of liberty and justice no longer shines throughout the world. We no longer set the example for other nations to follow. We no longer stand on a firm foundation. We have lost our national, moral gyro.
I despair when I think of the personal sacrifices made by so many in
I, therefore, call on my elected representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives to bring criminal charges against President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, legal counsel William J. Haynes, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former legal counsel David Addington, and potentially other high officials and uniformed officers. There is no other option if you are to carry out your responsibilities. Citizens of the
Note: This article was written for and at the request of Sen. John Kerry, to use as leverage with his Senate colleagues.
Phillip Butler, Ph.D., commander, USN (ret.). Phillip Butler is a graduate of the
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