This is the oath of office that the President of the United States of America takes. Not to protect the citizens, or defend the "homeland" [as unwittingly insidious a word that ever existed], or keep us safe.
You wanna feel safer? Buy a 12 gauge, or subscribe to Slomin's.
And the Constitution, the overarching uniting force of the country [as opposed to such emotive items, like the flag or apple pie], extends its protections to everyone on American soil, citizen or no, whether that soil is in the lower forty-eight, a consulate in a far flung land, and even to "enemy combatants" in custody at Guantanamo Bay. Sorry, but that's the breaks. Hey, being an Enlightenment Document means you have to live up to the ideals of the Enlightenment.
Lousy Founding Fathers and their lousy ideals.
Oh, and THIS is what the phrase "Freedom isn't free" really means. It means you have to abide by the law, and respect the rights of the lowest of the low, even when it makes you wretch.
So, suffice it to say that I am distressed to have learned that President Obama has decided for the second time this week to reverse himself and go W. If you recall, earlier this week he decided to NOT release photos of abuse of "detainees" [as odious a euphemism as there is in our doublethink world], and now he has decided to go forward with military tribunals in trying certain suspects of terrorist acts, including the plotting of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Happily, he has decided to permit some basic, Constitutionally mandated protections, like choice of counsel, limiting hearsay evidence, and prohibiting the use of evidence obtained through that tried and failed method of torture.
Sorry, Mr. Obama, that's not good enough. I believe that our Federal Judiciary and the Justice Department are more than up to the task of trying these suspected criminals, even if they are terrible people.
And if the Bush Administration fornicated with the proverbial canine by torturing confessions, or by just torturing, and thereby violating the Eighth Amendment's mandate that "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines be imposed, NOR CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT INFLICTED," making prosecution difficult or impossible, then so be it.
There must be some comeuppance for our failure to abide by our own law, nay, our organizing principles. This is not a matter of hating America first, as I am sure the Faux News crowd would clamor, but a matter of loving the ideals of my country more than my last President.
This is what "We are a country of laws and not men" means. We are not subject to the whims of our leadership, and rather, are commonly bounded by the law, and the ultimate law is enshrined in the Constitution. And by extension of that logic the Constitution IS the country, not the dirt under your feet. Without it we may as well be barbarians.
And the Constitution demands of us something better than political convenience, or reacting out of fear. It demands we live up to it, so that we might be that City on a Hill, that last best hope for the world.
Otherwise, we are just another country out of hundreds now, and thousands in history. And our self aggrandizing rhetoric is nothing. Nothing but words. And if so, then so is that sacred piece of paper.