Senator Jeff Sessions recently said that good people don’t smoke pot. Keep in mind this is the same Jeff Sessions who has campaigned with Dick Cheney and very recently with Donald Trump, both of whom are adamantly pro torture. In this commentary, I make the case that good people don’t vote for Jeff Sessions. To make clear, I’m not defending pot use, as it impairs cognitive function, engendering Sessions-style thinking. It’s Dick Cheney – not me – who is nexused with major drug smugglers.
Let’s start with this axiom: an accusation isn’t tantamount to guilt. To say that only terrorists will be denied habeas corpus and tortured would require evidence of guilt anterior to the use of torture. The alleged purpose of torture is to extract evidence. Pre-existing evidence defeats the alleged purpose of torture. More importantly, torture is unreliable to collect valid information.
That the United States government can do whatever it wishes to foreigners runs contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. Just because citizens of, say, Canada are not protected by the United States Constitution does not permit the United States government to confiscate the firearms of Canadian citizens. The Constitution follows the government wherever it goes. The Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and right of habeas corpus applies to foreigner and American citizen alike.
When I was in the Marine Corps, I was not only taught that torture is illegal and that Marines don’t torture, but also that a prisoner of war is sacred. POWs are not to be tried for conduct on the battlefield. Upon conclusion of a war, POWs are to be released.
In the present paradigm, the United States is at war against terrorism. It’s akin to having a war against sin. Sin will always be with us. So, too, will terrorism. There’s no finite enemy and a “war on terror” can never be won and is never ending. Terrorism should be treated as a law enforcement matter, affording suspects due process without demolishing the rule of law. Anything other invites encroachment by the government upon the rights of American citizens.
The “war on terror” is global, which includes the United States. Keep in mind the definition of terrorism seems to be more dynamic than static. I happen to support the Second Amendment. There does seem to be somewhat of an anti-Second Amendment trend and I could see how one day if you believe in the Second Amendment, you could be accused of being a terrorist. Pursuant to Jeff Sessions’s calculus, if you’re accused of being a terrorist then you should be waterboarded until you confess to being a terrorist. The Second Amendment is not safe without the Fifth Amendment and vice versa. Those two Amendments mutually support one another.
Some people might remain skeptics. But think about this. If the government is to completely demolish habeas corpus and implement a domestic torture program, what would the government want to do first? Disarm the people. There are politicians who really do want to disarm us. That’s not a conspiracy theory. Once guns are banned, is it inconceivable that gun owners could be declared terrorists? There are politicians who really do support torturing accused terrorists and denying them habeas corpus. That’s not a conspiracy theory.
It’s unfortunate that so many alleged conservatives are unable to recognize that denying accused terrorists habeas corpus is incompatible with small government conservatism. Many conservatives are too cognitively deficient to figure out the injustice of creating a new class of prisoner that doesn’t quite match the definition of a POW or a terrorist suspect. They are POWs without any rights in a never ending, global war.
But not only that, many conservatives believe an accusation is tantamount to guilt. Conservatives embrace the idea that anybody the United States government decides to capture and accuse of being a terrorist is one, therefore it’s morally acceptable to torture the accused into confessing to crimes while denying the accused the right of habeas corpus. Even if this treatment is reserved exclusively for foreigners, it’s still reprehensible. Torture is wrong when foreigners do it to American citizens and it’s wrong when American citizens do it to foreigners.
The use of torture makes battlefield opponents much less likely to surrender, thereby jeopardizing the safety of troops in harm’s way. Practicing torture undermines the legitimacy of the government itself. How can any reasonable person justify a government that practices torture incarcerating people over much more minor and technical infractions of statutory law? Let’s not forget that innocent people died under Dick Cheney’s torture program, i.e., they were murdered. Pursuant to Jeff Sessions’s calculus, pot smokers are worse than torturers and murderers. In other words, it’s okay to jail pot smokers while torturers and murderers remain free.
Torture is notoriously unreliable for collecting legitimate intelligence. Torture is an effective tool to extract false confessions. Denying accused terrorists due process, using tactics that result in false confessions, is something that terrorists would do. Terrorists kill and torture people extrajudicially. Terrorists don’t like due process. I believe that politicians who seek to jettison due process are themselves terrorists. Therefore, I am accusing many politicians, including Jeff Sessions, of being terrorists. Pursuant to Jeff Sessions’s own calculus, an accusation is tantamount to guilt. It’s why good people don’t vote for Jeff Sessions.