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Be Counted

raisedhands.jpgThe WaPo has an op-ed from two former Reagan Administration officials today, standing up to be counted among the many in this nation who believe that the rule of law and our Constitution are superior to the needs of any one, fleeting term of any President.  To wit:

One of us was appointed commandant of the Marine Corps by President Ronald Reagan; the other served as a lawyer in the Reagan White House and has vigorously defended the constitutionality of warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps, presidential signing statements and many other controversial aspects of the war on terrorism. But we cannot in good conscience defend a decision that we believe has compromised our national honor and that may well promote the commission of war crimes by Americans and place at risk the welfare of captured American military forces for generations to come….

The Geneva Conventions provide important protections to our own military forces when we send them into harm’s way. Our troops deserve those protections, and we betray their interests when we gratuitously “interpret” key provisions of the conventions in a manner likely to undermine their effectiveness. Policymakers should also keep in mind that violations of Common Article 3 are “war crimes” for which everyone involved — potentially up to and including the president of the United States — may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions.

In a letter to President James Madison in March 1809, Jefferson observed: “It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side.” Our leaders must never lose sight of that wisdom.

Standing up for the rule of law and the Constitution is not a partisan issue. It is an American issue.

What the Bush Administration is doing with its systematic disregard for the rule of law is to put the Presidency above the rest of the nation, and to declare that the President may rule by fiat with no recourse for checks or balances because they say so — to publicly proclaim themselves to be the imperial presidency, the very thing the Founders of this nation feared would occur during time of war.

If you have not done so already, watch the Dan Rather Reports on “The Constitution In Question.” It is an exceptional dialogue about the need for adherence to our principles and to the letter of the law — and the substantial damage which can be wrought in all of our names by a President run amok. Long term damage that will be generations in the undoing, the effects of which will ripple out for years and years to come.

We have work to do over the next few weeks if Congress is, indeed, going to recess.  It is time we all — every one of us — stood up and let our voices be heard in the cause of liberty.

Make an appointment with staffers or your elected representatives and talk with them about the issues that are important to you, including the restoration of the rule of law. Better yet, put together a local group and go to the meeting — many voices raised at once for the Constitution carries a lot of weight, because most people never bother to take the time to involve themselves politically at all. Write letters to the editor. Call in to talk radio.

Do something to make yourself heard — and to make others stop and think about their responsibility to become active citizens.  Do not let the only voices that our elected officials hear be those of paid lobbyists and Administration apologists.  It is incumbant upon each of us to stand up and say that we have had enough and that we want action…now.

We owe it to our nation’s forefathers, and to all of the generations yet to come, to stand up for liberty, justice and the Constitution. What will you do today for your country?

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com