Friday, October 27, 2006


White House Press Secretary Tony Snow says that it is a "no-brainer" that the United States does not torture, and it is a "no-brainer" that the United States follows international law. Yet the White House Office of Legal Counsel wrote in a formal opinion that "customary international law, whatever its source and content, does not bind the President," and we know that C.I.A. interrogators have used waterboarding — established in U.S. legal precedent after World War II as torture — in interrogating post-9/11 prisoners.

In the same memo, John Yoo takes the absurd position that "As the Nation’s representative in foreign affairs, the President has a variety of constitutional powers with respect to treaties, including the powers to suspend them, withhold performance of them, contravene them or terminate them." That assertion is incomprehensible in light of the clear language of Article VI: "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land." Nothing there, or in Article II, either explicitly or implicitly gives the President the power to terminate a treaty, any more than he could unilaterally terminate a federal law or a part of the Constitution itself.

The "no-brainer" is that the Bush Administration will do anything and say anything without regard to international law, domestic law, or even the Constitution, in its pursuit of unlimited power.

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