Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Liberty is detained and interrogated


This past week, the Washington Post obtained a draft of an executive order regarding the reinstatement of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Black Sites and “advanced interrogation techniques.” Both measures have been discredited by domestic scholars because they are ineffective and immoral. It seems that the Trump administration does not adhere to these notions of morality or even utility.

While the majority of orders enacted by the Trump administration are worthy of comment due to their tyrannical implications, the content of this specific draft reveals a certain perception of national and international security policy that is of grave concern to internationally-recognized principles of human dignity.

The document, titled “Executive Order—Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants,” introduces the role of “critical intelligence” within a discourse of a “global war on terrorism.” It states that protecting our interests “depends upon the ability of the United States, acting in accordance with our Constitution, our laws, and our international commitments, to obtain critical intelligence information about developing threats.”

The order proceeds in arguing that the Obama administration has failed in its efforts to enact defensive measures, “refrain[ing] from exercising certain authorities critical to its defense.” The first is the Obama administration’s attempt to close Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo has been seen by the international community as a scathing manifestation of American hypocrisy.

The “liberties and freedoms” of the U.S., inalienable and universal to the human condition, starkly contrast the policies of Guantanamo. The Patriot Act, under the pretext of national security, states that any man deemed to be an “enemy combatant” engaging in “acts of terrorism” can be denied crucial legal protections (i.e. right to trial and formidable living conditions).

Contrary to the proposals set forth in the executive order, increased use of Guantanamo is not compatible with any aspects of our Constitution or international commitments. The Geneva Convention shows that these are not “consistent with international conventions…” Furthermore, Guantanamo invalidates our ratified policy to uphold the rights to fair trial and rights to be free from arbitrary detention as stated in the 1992 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The rights of man are not contingent upon circumstance of security; they are as stated in our Constitution to be inalienable in every sense of the word. It is in times of political instability, real or contrived, that we require the fullest implementation of these rights and a vow from our government to uphold these rights.

These are not rights endowed to American citizens, but to people. In pursuing a more cohesive vision of humanity and peace, we must recognize that the rights of human beings are not reserved to specific attributes—they wield a timeless quality to them that transcends geography, political affiliation, sex, gender, etc. Unfortunately the administration, as they have demonstrated again, does not share this same vision.

A proposed reintroduction of advanced interrogation techniques is demonstrative of the type of human rights conscience latent within the Trump polity.

Consider Section 1 of the executive order which states that Executive Orders 13491 of Jan. 22, 2009 are to be revoked, and Executive Order 13440 is to be reinstated to the extent permitted by Law.

The prospect of removing Executive Order 13491 is as daunting as it is morally repellent. Executive Order 13491 stipulates that during the conduct of intelligence extraction, the United States will comply with those minimum standards of human dignity as stated in the Geneva Convention. Revocation of 13491 would imply that the U.S. is no longer obligated to refrain from “subjections to violence on life (including murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture) nor to outrages upon personal dignity (including humiliation and degrading treatment).” The implication of such an abhorrent policy seems to be beyond comment and cannot be reasonably justified under any condition.

While only a draft, this executive order demonstrates a type of cruel and sadistic mentality regarding human security policy. Under the auspice of defense, the Trump regime continues to invalidate fundamental notions of dignity that are universal to not only the American experience, but to the human experience as well. In a time of fear and paranoia, we must be vigilant to protect our rights and those of our neighbors, foreign and domestic, for they are endowed with that same characteristic of friend and family: human.

Josh Raposa is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • A

    ArafatFeb 6, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    Mr. Raposa should volunteer ten hours per week helping those maimed by the Muslims who carried out the Boston Marathon terrorist act. By doing so he might realize his priorities are exactly why this (and all European countries) are turning towards politicians who will protect our liberties from the fascist Muslim ideology.

  • S

    Sitting BullFeb 6, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Wow, you’ve quite an expansive view of the Constitution of the United States. I wonder where you learned that? You make the unilateral determination that enemy combatants at Guantanamo are “arbitrarily detained.” In fact, most of them were stone cold killers and captured on the battlefield, confirmed Al Queda members. Several of those released by the pansy Obama administration have gone on to kill further. Secondly, the inalienable rights referred to in the Constitution refer to the natural rights of man, not the consequences of making war on the United States. You have conflated natural rights with civil rights and those are not the same thing. In addition, Guantanamo houses foreign enemy combatants, but you article implies that the US routinely impinges rights of all detainees everywhere under its jurisdiction. And, as many of us have experienced, that is not only not true, but our system frustratingly provides the accused (and even the convicted) with far more rights than the perpetrators have bestowed on their victims. Finally, you state that “these are not rights endowed to American citizens” and somehow extend such rights to the rest of the world. Which is a patent mistatement of fact and law. The US Constitution governs only the United States, and while it would be worthwhile and noble for every other nation on earth to recognize the natural rights which we hold dear, only a few actually do so. It is already dismaying enough that we confer rights on to non citizens (particularly illegal aliens who commit crimes here), but to suggest that these rights somehow are extended by the US to the rest of the world where ever the bad guys may be, well that is quite a convenient interpretation of Constitutional law.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Feb 6, 2017 at 8:17 am

    It’s all fun and games until you’ve caught a guy who knows where the nuke is in Boston. And he’s not talking.

    The Constitution is not a suicide pact.