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Just a piece of paper

Dear Editor:On C-Span today, right-wing columnist Mona Charen accused her more liberal adversary of wanting to “take our Constitution to the battlefield,” implying that it would be wrong to not allow our forces the latitude they needed. Ruth Conniff had just criticized the use of unauthorized wiretaps and pointed out the danger to our Constitution when the executive branch of our government ignores the role of the courts and the Congress.I recalled the oath I took as I became a member of the U.S. Army:”I do solemnly swear 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; and that I will obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (First adopted in 1789.) The leaders of the American Revolutionary War, including General Washington, made it the policy of our army to act in the most humane way possible, in part to show the contrast with the armies of the crown and the atrocities they were committing against American soldiers and civilians. This early public relations strategy helped to muster desperately needed support among the people of the colonies for this dangerous venture. The Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits torture and inhumane acts such as the use of white phosphorus chemical weapons and depleted uranium munitions. The military has recently strengthened the policy regarding orders to making it a soldier’s duty to not obey an unlawful order. George Bush reportedly referred to our Constitution as “just a piece of paper” and told his aides to do as they were told. I take issue with both the president and Mona Charen: There is no more important place to take our Constitution than to the battlefield. As Sen. John McCain has said, it is who we are.Unfortunately it is now clear that respect for our Constitution no longer exists at the highest levels of our government.Patrick HunterCarbondale


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