Tuesday, February 10, 2015

So much for the Rule of Law

I take the concept of the Rule of Law pretty seriously.  After all, I swore the Federal law enforcement oath of office:

I [name] do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

The Constitution is the foundation for all US laws and regulations, which must be made 'in pursuance thereof'.  If they're not in accordance with the Constitution, they're not valid.  Period.

I've known for years that the supremacy of the Constitution has been under threat by ever-encroaching 'nanny state' and 'Big Brother' legislation.  However, the Atlantic has just reminded us how badly it's been eroded.  Its article is titled "America Fails the 'Rule of Law' Test".

The U.S. Army field manual defines "the rule of law" as follows: "The rule of law refers to a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced, and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency."

Going by that definition, the U.S. government does not operate according to the rule of law. A panel of former executive-branch employees, many of whom served in the U.S. military or the CIA, made this point bluntly in a recent report on drones. "Despite the undoubted good faith of US decision-makers, it would be difficult to conclude that US targeted strikes are consistent with core rule of law norms," they declared. "From the perspective of many around the world, the U.S. appears to claim, in effect, the legal right to kill any person it determines is a member of al-Qaida or its associated forces, in any state on Earth, at any time, based on secret criteria and secret evidence, evaluated in a secret process by unknown and largely anonymous individuals—with no public disclosure of which organizations are considered 'associated forces,' no means for anyone outside that secret process to raise questions about the criteria or validity of the evidence, and no means for anyone outside that process to identify or remedy mistakes or abuses."

Just so.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government violates "rule of law" norms in other areas too.

There's more at the link.

Makes you think, doesn't it?  The question is, what are we going to do about restoring the rule of law and doing away with institutions and individuals who stand in its way?



Rolf said...

Anyone that's ever read the 9th and 10th Amendments and thought about them a little would know that already.

Phil said...

Substitute your name followed by "Domestic Terrorist" in place of Al Quaida in that paragraph and you have the current state of affairs concerning the Rule of Law in this country .

Shrimp said...

"The question is, what are we going to do about restoring the rule of law and doing away with institutions and individuals who stand in its way?"

Unfortunately, nothing. Anyone who dares to say something as outrageous as our founding fathers would have said will be shouted down by both sides as a nut-job who's inciting violence. Never mind that violence may well be the answer, or very soon will be if things continue down the path they're on. As for actually doing anything, well...

That and we (the general public) are too distracted noting which celebrity was given which award and was inappropriately dressed or not dressed inappropriately enough. Or which team deflated what balls, or which player on what team is taking PEDs.

I weep for the future of this once great republic.

Mark Matis said...

I would only note that it is your Brothers in Blue, ESPECIALLY those at the Federal level, who are most culpable for this treason. As with you, EVERY ONE OF THEM swore the same oath. Yet NOT EVEN ONE OF THEM can be bothered to honor same. Even though that oath is the SOLE source of their authority.

The stench is overwhelming. And it smells like pig.

RM said...

We seem to face some related difficulties. First, many, perhaps even most, citizens like the idea of the rule of law far more than the reality. Let me explain. It sounds great that every individual and institution should be treated equally under and by the law and that there should be things like transparency and participation is decision making...until it becomes inconvenient. "Oh, there are people out there who wish to harm us. If we follow the rule of law, they might do so before we can prevent such a thing, so this is an exception." Note that this doesn't even deal with the possibility that someone in government is overstating the case. It's just that many far too often value something (apparent safety in t his case) over the rule of law. Second, the fault does not lie, primarily, with government in general or some portion of it in particular. The ultimate responsibility for how things proceed in a republic like ours falls on the citizens. WE have abdicated our responsibility. WE have allowed ourselves to be deceived by those who tell us what we wish to hear. WE have failed to exercise due oversight of our governmental institutions. While I, like others, fear for our country (and recognize the disgraceful actions by many of those in government), I understand the ultimate fault lies with me and my fellow citizens.

Richard Blaine said...

It's a tangled web.

Public schools teach compliance and deny the individual. They regularly deny constitutional rights for "the greater good"

Law enforcement does a miserable job of policing themselves.

Politicians do everything they can to make it worse. Mostly it's rule by regulation enforced by unelected bureaucrats. They are worried only about their own futures and behave as if their actions have no consequences - which often as not, they don't.

Most people are more interested in what Kate Upton is wearing, or what idiocy some other celeb is up to, than thinking about the rapid deterioration of the rule of law.

The cooperation between corporation and government has led to insane market behaviors.

The Media report only what fits their bias, and lie when the facts don't fit that agenda.

It seems that human nature is to believe that for the most part, things don't really change. We've had freedom and prosperity (in general) for so long that people can't wrap their heads around the idea that it might not last. This leads to apathy when it comes to being engaged in the system.

All of these things advance the ability of those who seek power to gain power.

We're in a downward spiral and it's not going to end well.