Relative Damage to the United States Presidency: Immigration Executive Order vs. Worldwide Torture Program

By Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law, Advocates for US Torture Prosecutions

http://justsecurity.org/17628/full-transcript-united-states-appearance-committee-convention-torture/ – transcript of the U.S. periodic review by the UN Committee Against Torture

The riveting to watch video of the periodic review – http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/cat-53rd-session-united-states-of-america/

Each sovereign has the ability to determine its immigration rules subject to not violating some fundamental human rights. By contrast, there is an absolute prohibition against torture.

Those who consider the immigration executive order as damaging to the Presidency might take a moment to think about the US worldwide torture program and its damahe not only to the Presidency but to the United States standing in the world.

The people who put in place that regime may be powerful and they may be patriotic and they may love their kids and be great parents and good neighbors and on and on, but that is to rationalize their conduct that violated the absolute prohibition on torture.  Think about the departure from the rule of law one makes when those rationalizations are put in front of the absolute prohibition.

This penchant for letting rationalization trump law is to move from a de jure legal regime to one where de facto impunity is permitted. It is to shift from a de jure legal regime to one that might be termed a de facto legal regime where discretion and power deference replace the principle of legality as the operative legal environment. It is to accept official lawlessness of the kind we are seeing in the manner the SSCI Torture Report has been fought while it was being written and is being slow-walked by those – not out of a sense of public trust – who use any spin they can make up to try to keep us ordinary Americans in the dark.

Every day that the release of this report is delayed and every day we allow present or former senior officials who put in place the worldwide torture regime to walk around free is another day that the absolute prohibition against torture is allowed to weaken. And that weakening devolves us toward the barbarism that Neanderthals like ISIS remind us is in the very dark and grim parts of humanity’s soul.