Linda Monk: No Torture. It's the Law.

lyndie england
Lyndie England

Linda Monk is a Constitutional scholar and frequent guest on my show. She wrote a great op-ed in the Washington Post refuting a clueless column by David Broder. Linda Monk eloquently argues that David Broder has lost his senses and that torture is wrong for a number of reasons.This is a must read.

From WaPo:

Not ‘Scapegoating,’ Simply Justice

It is dismaying that a man of David S. Broder’s wisdom and integrity would imply that a president is above the law [“Stop Scapegoating,” op-ed, April 26]. We did not accept that argument for Richard Nixon, and neither should we for George W. Bush or Barack Obama. The main job description of the president is to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” He does not have the discretion to turn his back on massive violations of the law.

The Geneva Conventions prohibiting torture are, under the Constitution, “the supreme law of the land” and require signatories to prosecute those who commit torture. Ronald Reagan endorsed the U.N. convention against torture enthusiastically, and our highest military officers support those standards. Lawyers, too, take an oath to “defend the Constitution of the United States” in their government service as well as in their admission to the bar. If anyone should be accountable for upholding legal standards, it is the lawyers in the Justice Department who are sworn to enforce the law, not just for their boss the president but for the American people, whom they represent. Those torture memos were not mere intellectual debates by academics; they were legal opinions rendered by practicing lawyers who are subject to the standards of the profession. It is just as illegal to advise someone to commit an unlawful act as it is to commit one.

The real scapegoats in this ugly scenario are soldiers such as then-Pvt. Lynndie R. England, who went to prison in 2005 for her role in the Abu Ghraib scandal, although, according to her lawyer, she suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome resulting in a below-average IQ. Now it is clear that Abu Ghraib was the predictable result, as some military lawyers warned at the time, of loosening standards for torture at Guantanamo. So why shouldn’t lawyers suffer the same consequences as the soldiers they imperil?

LINDA R. MONK

  • onebadapple

    Linda,

    Nice piece, but some of you “fact” about Lynndie England are flat out made up junk by the media….I have seen the court transcipt. Lynndie was NOT a fetal alcohol syndrom baby. She was a “blue” baby. She did not have a “below average IQ” – you can’t get into the military if you do! No, I will give you an example of what her family went through when the scandal broke.

    Her mother arrived home one night to find reporters all over their yard. When asked to give a comment, and she refused, a reporter said to her “you better give us one or we will make something up!”

    This has been the problem with how Lynndie has been used by the media, let alone her then boyfriend, Graner, the military, and COC, and her commander-in-chief. Lynndie was, and still is, the scapegoat of those who controlled the proceedings of the Iraq War. She was NOT a guard, or MP, she was a clerk. The reason why she was in the pictures is that she was visiting her then boyfriend, Charles Graner. He asked her to step into those pictures. The “leash picture” is NOT a leash – there is a story there. Look at it, does Lynndie look like she is even interested in what is going on?

    Her only authorized biography will be released on June 1 by “Bad Apple Books”. Gary Winkler, Appalachian-genre writer, spent the better part of as year interviewing Ms. England, her parents and friends, and reviewing her personal documents and the official trial(s) transcript(s). It will be avaliable at all bookstores, and on Amazon.

    Please, now that it has come to light that these Reservists were telling the truth, doesn’t it stand to reason that the vast majority of the media were simly pawns of the Bush Administration?

  • One Bad Apple,

    Thanks for the correction as to the specifics of Ms. England’s condition. Her lawyers did argue diminished capacity at her sentencing hearing. It will be interesting to see how the transcript compares to media reports.

    What confuses me is why Ms. England did not raise the same defense at trial as Graner did, that the abuse was widespread and related to military intelligence (as we know now it was). Instead, according to CNN, she testified that the soldiers involved in the abuse did so “for their own amusement.”

    http://edition.cnn.com/2005/LAW/05/02/england.plea/index.html

    If that quote is correct, then she was going along with the “media version” supported by the Bush Administration that the Abu Ghraib photos were an isolated incident of “Animal House” on the night shift.

    I’m glad Ms. England is choosing to tell her own story, and I look forward to reading it.

    Thanks again,

    Linda

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  • Jeff

    “The Geneva Conventions prohibiting torture are, under the Constitution, “the supreme law of the land” and require signatories to prosecute those who commit torture”

    LOL… I can’t believe my sister has to read your book for summer reading.

  • My book is required reading? For who? How odd.

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