The Obama Administration has claimed that it is “compelled” to release the memos on “enhanced interrogation” and the photos of terrorist prisoners at other places than Abu Ghraib. Neither claim is correct. The Administration has chosen not to appeal either ACLU case to the Supreme Court. Instead, it has released only the harmful memos, which is what the ACLU sought.
The facts for this article, but not the legal conclusions, come from an article in the Wall Street Journal on April 24. It concerns two different cases filed by the ACLU, seeking compulsory release of secret memos about the use of “exceptional means” for obtaining information from terrorists, and military photographs taken elsewhere than Abu Ghraib.
In both cases, a trial court order to make the releases has been upheld by the Appeals Courts. However, in a telling exchange with an ABC reporter, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stumbled and stuttered after claiming that the court cases “compelled” the releases. He was obviously unaware that the Administration could have appealed to the Supreme Court to correct those decisions.
The simple truth that the White House press corps almost reached, was that the White House made the voluntary decision to abandon the cases and do what the ACLU wanted. The left side of the political spectrum which supported the President wanted this result.
The law governing the conduct of the war on the terrorists at the time of the interrogations (and when the photographs were taken) was the unanimous Quirin case in 1942 concerning eight German saboteurs. Under that, and under a competent reading of the four Geneva Conventions, there is no question whatever that the actions taken to protect the nation after the attacks of 9/11 were both legal and constitutional.
The purpose of these ACLU cases is not to “present the truth” or to “enforce the law.” It is to damage the United States by half truths. The most effective lie is one that is as close as possible to the truth. The memos which will establish what benefits flow from the interrogations are the other half of the truth. That half is still being hidden,
Likewise, the memos which would establish exactly what the leaders of Congress in both parties were told secretly and in advance about means of interrogation, also remain hidden. And with half the truth hidden, the lies prevail,
So, step by step, the Administration moves from government in accord with the Constitution, to government of, for, and by the ACLU.
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