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The Rule of Some Laws (But Not Others)

Concentration campsA New York Times article this morning reports that the Bush Administration is about to crack down hard again on immigrants who may be in the country illegally, by forcing employers to fire those found to be using phony Social Security cards. Upholding our immigration laws is, you see, a matter of principle.

Of course, the problem of phony cards could be solved for both employees who need the jobs, and employers who need the workers, if there were sane immigration laws that included giving the immigrants reasonable access to real Social Security cards, so that they would be within the law, contributing and paying taxes, instead of outside the system creating enforcement issues. But that wouldn’t satisfy the Republican right wing’s desire for punishing people who “aren’t like us” just because they can.

No, the right wing insists there’s a principle of the rule of law at stake, and Lou Dobbs and Republicans just can’t stand the fact that people might be violating the laws of this country. And because those dark skin creatures aren’t like us, we need to be firm with them, and if they persist, put them in “family relocation centers” until they learn their lessons. As a Bush-appointee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission notes, it’s the logical thing to do for a law abiding nation.

Given their respect for the law, how do you suppose the Republicans feel about Jane Mayer’s description in The New Yorker of the CIA “black sites” and their systematic use of torture. Marty Lederman summarizes this despicable reign of state-sponsored terror, all done under the Republican Admininstration’s rule of law and cheered on by the of so principled Republican right wing — i.e., virtually all of them.

As we have tried to argue repeatedly in this space, it is the conduct at these black sites, and not so much Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, that is at the heart of the scandal — or, at the very least, it’s at the CIA black sites that the problems began, and that’s where the primary action is now, after Hamdan and the MCA. This is not a case, like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, where the government simply insisted that interrogators obtain actionable intelligence, promised them legal cover, and then turned a blind eye so that unsupervised thugs could do their dirty work. That was bad enough. But as Jane explains, the CIA program is much more systematized, approved in every detail at the highest levels of government, by DOJ and by the Director of Central Intelligence, instigated and pushed by the Vice President, and supervised by psychologists hired to give it a patina of respectability and orderliness. It is an official, systematic torture regime, conducted entirely in secret, and without any accountability, let alone punishment for those who have violated clear legal norms — including the Torture Act, the War Crimes Act, and the prohibition on cruel treatment and torture in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

Read Mayer’s entire article and/or Marty’s excellent summary, and then think about what the law ‘n order Republican Party really believes about the sanctity of the rule of law. The Bush Administration has turned the US Government into a state sponsor of terrorism that condones aggressive wars, disappearing people via kidnapping, followed by torture, indefinite imprisonment, and phony show trials. We have become Chile under Pinochet, or Agentina, or . . . But by God we’re going to show those brown people we respect the rule of law.

Digby has more.

Photo of Manzanar Relocation Center by Dorothea Lange, 1943.

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley