Thursday, April 1, 2010

A letter to the President

I sent the following letter to Mr. Obama. I ask readers of this to please tell our president that no person is above the law. Here are two reasons not mentioned in the letter.

Global warming: in 1997 Unocal Corporation was negotiating with the Taleban to build an oil pipeline across Afghanistan. The agreement reached fell apart. Iraq has major oil reserves. These are the two main countries we attacked.

Drugs: The Taleban banned the cultivation of opium poppies, and by 2001 only 30 sq. mi. were cultivated. Prior to that 87% of the world's heroin came from these crops. One year after our invasion there were 285 sq. mi. cultivated. Now the production is at an all time high.

Mr. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Mr. Obama
After your election you asked for input from the public on what was important to them. There were numerous suggestions asking for an investigation of the previous administration for crimes of war, each with many “yes” votes. Your reasoning for not doing that was largely that you wanted your administration to “look forward”. I understand the importance of not expending too much time, energy, and political good will on events of the past. I also understand the importance of insuring that our government is not above the law.

Clearly the events of the last year prove that there is no political goodwill when dealing with people who wish only to obstruct your success. We can disagree on what is too much time and what is too much energy. I am going to address the importance of insuring that our government is not above the law.

I marched in protest to our involvement in Vietnam, and as our troops returned we learned about the atrocities committed in our name. Over time we have learned about other crimes. Yet there were no investigations of our government leaders, and as recently as 2002 archives were removed from public view because they were “exempt from the Freedom of Information Act”. The precedence was made that our leadership is above the law.

Over the years since our withdrawal from Vietnam the U.S. government has on several occasions committed acts that could be interpreted as violations of U.S. or international law. While we have supported the prosecution of foreign leaders, except for the actions of the Nixon administration our leaders have not been the subject of investigations.

I want to believe that your administration supports the rule of law, and supports the very reason that you are Mr. Obama, the title of a commoner. It was therefore with distress that I learned of State Department legal advisor Harold Koh’s March 25th justification for the use of unmanned drones. I am not competent to make a decision as to the legality of their use. My distress is over the statement made that now is not the time to adjudicate the legality combined with no real justification except to say the there is a non-disclosed process in place to insure compliance with law.

This sets up the perfect “we are above the law” scenario. During the time that our government is acting is not the appropriate time to review the legality of the actions, and after the actions have taken place is inappropriate because we need to move forward. The only remaining option is to investigate before the action takes place which is absurd and absurdly illegal. Because we are dealing with international law, you are setting international precedence. This precedence can be used by any powerful nation. China, Russia, and others can commit acts at will, say that now is not the time to question them, and then say that it is in the past and they are moving on.

We must break the precedence. We must let the world know that no one in the United States is above the law. In keeping with your wish to not make this a Republican vs. Democratic battle, I suggest an investigation into the actions of every living president. I suggest investigating the greatest ex-president of my life, Jimmy Carter, plus Bill Clinton, both senior and junior Bush, and you.

It is with great concern for our future that I sign this:
Stanford Smith

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