Gerald Field is no career leftist. Although he did support Barack Obama for President before the 2008 elections, he previously served under President Ronald Reagan as Solicitor General. He is also a Harvard Professor of Law and knows a thing or two about the Constitution. A book he wrote with his son Gregory, a philosopher and chairman of that department at Suffolk university, recently wrote: "Because it is Wrong: Torture, Privacy and Presidential Power in the Age of Terror,"
Although I haven't read the book yet, interviews with the Frieds make clear its central thesis--that it is wrong to torture a person to any degree, under any circumstances and for any reason.
The Frieds note that the Constitution says government surveillance — essentially a search — is wrong, but only if it is unreasonable or conducted without a warrant. As Fried points out below, there is no power of torture laid out in the Constitution, despite the twisted logic of Bush Justice Department lawyers like John Woo and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, both of whom approved of "waterboarding" suspects under the guise of fighting terrorists.
Editorial excerpt below from The Medford (Oregon) Mail Tribune, Sept. 13, 2010:
"As Charles Fried said in an interview on National Public Radio, "that immediately shows there's a difference, because you can have reasonable snooping. You can have snooping pursuant to a warrant. I don't care what kind of a warrant you have, you can't torture and there is no such thing as reasonable torture."
His son Gregory agreed: "... I think it's essential to our identity as a nation that we hold to this absolute among others, that torture is one of the things that a democratic republic must not do in order to retain its character."
Charles Fried cited figures from American history who echoed that sentiment: "Washington said treat those captured in the battle with humanity and let them have no reason to complain over our copying the brutal example of the British army. Lincoln said military necessity does not admit of cruelty that is the infliction of suffering for the sake of suffering or for revenge, nor of maiming or wounding except in fight, nor of torture to extort confessions."
America's stature in the world owes much to its Constitution, a document that protects the rights of individuals from the actions of their own government. Americans should ask themselves what that great tradition is worth if our government takes away the rights of others in the interest of our own security."
If The United States is supposed to stand for something greater then just a territory or a brute force of Hegalian Statism--and I believe that is why we were conceived as a nation-- we should heed these mens' words well.