National Constitution Center endorses torture

Well, by extension.  They’ve invited John Yoo to participate in a forum on “A Conversation on Civility and Democracy in America” — apparently without a blink of irony, too.  Yoo, you might recall, is the author of the infamous Torture Memos, that said the United Stated could and would abandon its obligations under the Geneva Conventions because, well, President Bush wanted to.  He also said that the President could order warrantless surveillance on, well, anybody, ’cause you know, the terror and all.

I knew that UC Berkeley had somehow decided to allow this lowlife to sit on its faculty, but somehow, the fact that the National Constitution Center is loaning him its gravitas really struck home for me.  And while I have no connection, even remote, to Berkeley, I do have one small lever with the NCC: I am a member.  Now, I have to decide if I’ll continue to be one.

My note of outrage to the NCC is posted below the fold.

I have been a proud member of the National Constitution Center for many years now.  Although I don’t often get down to Philadelphia to take in the Center’s exhibits, I feel the Center has a vital mission to educate the population and build its appreciation and respect for the US Constitution, one of the primary documents of human history and a cornerstone in humanity’s groping towards dignity and freedom.

You can imagine my surprise and dismay, then, to read that the Center will sully its good name and besmirch its grounds by inviting John Yoo to speak on “civility” in political discourse.  Although I have a high tolerance for political opinions of all stripes, I find myself disgusted that the Center would elevate the man responsible for the infamous “Torture Memos” and lend to him the gravitas of the Center’s work.  John Yoo, perhaps more than anyone else in the past decade, has undermined both the spirit and the letter of US law, has trampled upon the goodwill and good name of the United States, and done what he could to usher us toward a state of totalitarian oppression entirely at odds with the driving impulses of the US Constitution.  For anyone else, it would be the high mark of infamy to be author of memos advocating that the President willfully commit a felony (spying on Americans without warrants).  For John Yoo, this shredding of the 4th and 14th amendments is a mere footnote.

Inviting him to participate and then treating him as a respectable academic demonstrates wildly inept judgment on the part of the event’s organizers and of the Center itself.  I am forced to wonder if I can continue to support an institution that has decided to support John Yoo.  I hope the Center will reconsider and rescind its invitation, and stand with decent people everywhere in denouncing John Yoo, his dangerous theories of the “unitary executive”, and his embrace of torture under the aegis of legalized fictions.

Disappointed and disgusted,

-=-Bernard HP Gilroy

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