From: A Concerned Citizen
Dear Mr. President:
I know you aren't a big one for book larnin', but as someone who is, and who's been trained professionally in the legal system -- not to mention my prestigious poly sci degree, har, har -- I feel compelled to write to you to share my perspective.
You see, I've been watching your recent comments about your "terrorism" programs, and as an attorney, I've grown deeply concerned about some of the rules you are asking -- no, badgering -- Congress to enact. You are stubbornly insisting that Congress enact legislation that would allow our government to do things that, quite frankly, I find shocking and disturbing: allow US interrogators to coerce information from defendants (is that a nice way to say "torture"?) and use coerced confessions in prosecutions, and try defendants without allowing them or their lawyers to see what the evidence is against them.
There are so many reasons why this is wrong, but to give you a sense for how truly appalling this is, imagine one day you are sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom and federal marshals wake you up and carry you to jail. You are held indefinitely and not given a chance to go to court to learn what you're being accused of. (Drunken driving? Treason? Cocaine possession? Lying under oath?) You are subject to torture and coercion by interrogators. In response to this torture, you confess to anything and everything, including things you didn't do and know nothing about. You are then taken to court and tried on mystery charges, and found guilty -- and sentenced to death or the rest of your life in prison -- without even knowing what proof the government has against you.
But just as troubling to me is how you are handling these terrorism "initiatives." You just don't seem to understand the way our government works, the division of powers among the three branches of government and their respective duties. You see, Mr. President, your job is as the Executive. You aren't empowered to make laws or to interpret them: merely to carry them out, and, I might add, you swore on the Bible, the book you claim is Holy, that you would "to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." That pesky Constitution that limits your powers to carrying out the laws, not enacting them or giving them legal interpretation.
That means it's the job of Congress to make the laws, not you. Did you get that? Congress doesn't have to answer to you; in fact, the whole notion of separation of powers means that the Constitution vests in Congress the right to thumb their nose at you if a majority of them thinks that's right.
It's the job of judges, the federal judiciary, to interpret the laws, not you. Got it? You can't sign a law into effect, doodling in the margins or plugging in some bullshit preamble that says "I don't care what you say; this is how I'm going to interpret this law." Not your job.
So when I hear you bullying Congress to pass the laws that you say you need, threatening them with dire consequences -- "we're saving lives," you say, as if anyone, anywhere in this country wants to see fellow citizens die at the hands of terrorists -- I get really ticked off. Congress doesn't have to do what you say, and in fact it's their job not to. I believe it's their sacred duty not to, when the legislation you request would blatantly violate our Constitution. Not to mention some of the international treaties that we've signed.
(By the way, I'm getting awfully sick of the "people will die if you don't do exactly what I tell you" business. For your information, people have already died -- thousands of them -- to establish the Constitution and Bill of Rights (including the right to a trial without secret evidence). It's called the Revolutionary War. I guess you were
Please don't dismiss what I say as partisan, or "liberal" or "Democrat." There are plenty of Republicans who are equally concerned about these issues, who think any benefit we might get from your plan isn't worth the cost to our Constitution and our values.
I guess that's all for now. Thanks for listening. I'm sure you'll be hearing from me again.