But I digress: Constitutional wisdom

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By John Pawlak

We The People ... a beautiful sentiment, isn’t it? It was pure genius to use such simple words to launch such a powerful document. It took just three little words – written, by the way, in very large letters – to summarize the entire purpose for writing the document in the first place. Of course, I’m talking about the Constitution. It’s an amazing document.

Ever read it?

It’s truly amazing what you can learn when you do read the Constitution. For instance, did you know that the Constitution explicitly states – and I quote – “All forms of psychological and physical torture and inhumane treatment shall be prohibited. Any confession coerced by force, threat, or torture shall not be relied on.”

So why does our government condone torture and admit coerced testimony in its prosecution of enemy combatants? Haven’t they read the Constitution?

The Constitution also explicitly prohibits wiretapping without a warrant. Yes, it does. It really does.

The Constitution states – and I quote again – “The freedom of communication, and mail, telegraphic, electronic, and telephonic correspondence, and other correspondence shall be guaranteed and may not be monitored, wiretapped or disclosed except for legal and security necessity and by a judicial decision.”

The Constitution also states, “The law shall protect the inviolability of the private life of citizens. Correspondence, wires, telephone calls and other means of communication shall have their own sanctity and their secrecy shall be guaranteed.”

I’m not making this up. I am quoting the Constitution verbatim. You can go read it for yourself. Now, why our own government would violate something so clearly prohibited is a good question. I sometimes wonder if they’re listening in on my phone calls or e-mail.

DHS ee can you hear me now? Good! Can you hear me now? Yeah, I thought so.

The Constitution contains many other statements regarding torture. It reads, “No person shall be subjected to torture for the purpose of extracting evidence.”

That’s pretty clear, isn’t it? Now, some people may argue that the word “torture” needs to be defined. Oddly enough, these are the same people who ridiculed President Clinton for his equally inane statement of “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

We all know what torture is. Using those famous words of Justice Potter Stewart, it might be difficult to define, but we know it when we see it. Fortunately, we don’t really need to argue this point. The Constitution says much more on the subject. Here are some more excerpts – verbatim.

“No one may be tortured physically or mentally or be treated in a humiliating manner.”

The Constitution also states that “the law defines the punishment of whoever commits such an act.” So not only is torture prohibited by the Constitution, those people performing the torture and those people who sanction it must be punished.

And more excerpts: “Any person arrested, detained or his freedom restricted shall be treated in the manner concomitant with the preservation of his dignity. No physical or moral harm is to be inflicted upon him. He may not be detained or imprisoned except in places defined by laws organizing prisons. If a confession is proved to have been made by a person under any of the aforementioned forms of duress or coercion, it shall be considered invalid and futile.”

“Everyone shall have the right not to be forced to make any confessions or admissions of any evidence that may be brought against him during the trial. No evidence obtained in such a manner shall be legally admissible.”

Yes, I know ... you’re saying that these quotes are NOT in the Constitution. Well, trust me ... they are. So are the following excerpts.

• “No one shall be arrested or detained without being charged or convicted of a crime except in accordance with such procedures as are laid down by the law. Everyone shall have the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

• “An accused is considered innocent until convicted by a final decision of an authorized court. Torture of human beings is prohibited. No person, even with the intention of discovering the truth, can resort to torture or order the torture of another person who may be under prosecution, arrest, or imprisoned, or convicted to punishment. Punishment contrary to human integrity is prohibited.”

These excerpts are wonderful examples of the freedoms not merely enumerated, but demanded by the Constitution! There’s just one teeny weeny problem.

These excerpts are taken from the Constitutions of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan and Ethiopia.

Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan and Ethiopia? We the people should think about this.

John Pawlak is a teacher at Santa Fe Public Schools. For fun, he studies Vedic mathematics, archaic history and philosophy. E-mail him at johnrp9265@comcast.net.