Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Rice's Contradictions On Democracy, Rule of Law

This Sunday, Katie Couric on CBS 60 Minutes will feature Secretary of State Rice.Ref

There are some problems with Rice's arguments and points.

* * *

(1) Democracy

An image or principle is not the same as the action or results. It's one thing for Rice to argue that the world is ready to embrace democracy; Quite another to use non-democratic means to achieve that outcome: Illegal war, deception in the court, and illegal denial of process in the court.

Even when worn by the most beautiful angel, a pearl is imperfect when worn imperfectly.

(2) Precedent

Curious how people pick and choose their legal precedents. Rice may be able to cite the civil war, but the civil war was no precedent for this President. Rather, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and 1978 FISA act were passed well after the civil war. This President and Secretary of State repeated the illegal abuses of the civil war, failing to embrace its legal legacy.

More recent history, not distant trifles, has greater bearing on what should or should not be done today. A speculative future is not basis to ignore the recent pass, but dwell on foolhardy approaches of the distant past.

(3) Objectives

The war conditions American citizens are forced to endure are not nebulous facts of life, but partially created at the hands of reckless planning. Rice may assert that the "trying times" are worth it; the question is whether the "trying times" are created because of reckless disregard for the law, bungled planning, or flawed objectives. With Iran, it’s the same as Iraq -- all three.

The question is what are the costs in terms of Constitutional violations. We discredit our system and values when we use illegal means to advance an agenda. Our approach to our goals should be consistent with our goals we aspire for others. We have yet to have a straight story why Americans should endure standards we do not aspire for others.

(4) Credibility

Personal experiences may shape one's judgment, but Rice is not a legal scholar. She has yet to articulate the JAG opinions which contradict her statements before the EU. Rice publicly denied in Europe what the President later admitted. Rice may have an excellent memory for details, but has not demonstrated excellent judgment related to matters she should have known about as National Security Advisor.

We cannot be flattered by an individual when that flattery is a distraction from violations of the Rule of Law.

(5) Civil rights

Powell, like Rice, has views on proper treatment of prisoners. A legacy of abuse in an American town is different than first hand combat experience. Powell's letter on prisoner treatment has more weight when it comes to civil rights, that Rice's track record of not stopping the Geneva violations.

A story of personal loss is insufficient precedent to require all Americans to forego fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution.

(6) Perfection

Rice may have a standard of perfection for personal accomplishments, and this could be similar to the President's view of the courts: he doesn't like to have imperfections disclosed, even if they are war crimes. A desire to maintain an illusion of perfection has, in this President's case, led to tragic decisions to hide illegal activity.

Perfection is an admirable ideal, but it is folly to accept compromises in our law, while compelling others to be something we are not. There is no legal basis to wage war against nations because they are imperfect; rather, our imperfections are what make us human and independently, creative beings.