Torture files: an open letter to Constitution "guardian" U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith

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lamar smithEvery once in a while a letter comes over the wire that so freshens the discourse about Constitutional matters (ie. it's not "free muzzle-loading muskets for all;" it's not "anchor babies"), that it's simply impossible not to share. Such is the case with the following legal lesson offered by a San Antonian to the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Rep Lamar Smith. Enjoy! (And we'll see you spooks in Spain.)

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House of Representatives Chair, House Judiciary Committee Representative Lamar Smith: December 9, 2010, The Express News quoted you as referring to the House Judiciary Committee as “the guardian of the Constitution.” As you know Article VI of the US Constitution states: “This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” As you know Ronald Reagan signed and the US ratified the “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.” Article 4 of that Convention states that “Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offenses under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.” As you know, Article 7 states, “The State Party in territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offense referred to in article 4 is found, shall...if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.” As you know, George W. Bush and Richard Cheney have separately and publicly confessed to authorizing torture. Article 2, paragraph 2 of the Torture Convention states, “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.” As you know, Spain has asked the United States three times whether it intended to prosecute those in the Bush administration complicit in torture as required by the Constitution. The White House has not responded to any of those requests for fear that if the United States declares it will not obey its lawful duty to prosecute those who authorized torture or were complicit in torture then Spain will. As Chair of the Judiciary Committee your duty is clear. You took an oath to uphold the Constitution. Therefore, I urge you to enforce the law, return us to a Constitutional nation of law and extradite those alleged to have committed or who have been complicit in torture or bring them to justice or have the honor to resign as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee and your office as representative of your constituents. Sincerely, Robert Flynn San Antonio, Texas

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