November 12, 2010

Two Views of Bush's War Crimes

View one, from Amnesty International:
Amnesty International today urged a criminal investigation into the role of former US President George W. Bush and other officials in the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” against detainees held in secret US custody after the former president admitted authorizing their use.
“Under international law, the former President’s admission to having authorized acts that amount to torture are enough to trigger the USA’s obligations to investigate his admissions and if substantiated, to prosecute him,” said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International.
Amnesty gives some background:
The USA ratified the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) in 1994. Under UNCAT, in every case where there is evidence against a person of their having committed or attempted to commit torture, or of having committed acts which constitute complicity or participation in torture, the case must be submitted to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.

Failing to proceed with a prosecution on the basis that the accused held public office of any rank, or citing justifications based in “exceptional circumstances”, whether states of war or other public emergencies, is not permitted by UNCAT.
I know we've done this before, but let's do it again.

The United Nations Convention Against Torture was signed by Ronald Reagan and ratified by the Senate in 1994. And according to Article IV paragraph 2 of the US Constitution, which says:
This constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.
UNCAT is US Law. Torture is against US Law. Bush needs to be prosecuted.

Then there's the wingnuts who love love l-o-o-o-o-o-v-e the Constitution except when it gets in their way. Here's Peter King (R-NY):
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Wednesday defended the Bush administration’s use of waterboarding and said a Democratic colleague was “entirely wrong” to call for an investigation into the interrogation method sanctioned by the previous White House.

King, the presumptive next chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, pushed back against demands by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) for a probe into Bush-era waterboarding and asserted that President George W. Bush’s authorization of the practice “saved many, many lives.”

“Jerry and I are friends, but he’s entirely wrong on this,” King said in an interview with POLITICO’s Arena. “There would’ve been lives lost, and Bush deserves credit for what he did.”
Doesn't matter. Torture's still illegal. What part of that don't they get?

And then King further distinguishes himself:
King suggested Bush “should get a medal” for authorizing waterboarding. King said cases like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind behind Sept. 11 who is currently awaiting trial, proved practices such as waterboarding were effective.

“There was no harm done,” King said, referring to Mohammed. “In the big picture, to hold someone’s head underwater, the chance of permanent damage is minimal and the rewards are great.”
No harm done, except to the rule of law.

And our moral standing in the world.

No one is above the law. George W Bush is a war criminal. And Peter King is defending the indefensible.

1 comment:

Piltdown Man said...

What began as a slippery slope is now a headlong tumble into obscurity for these United States, and much of it is due to the lack of "rule of law."

Like the ability to make and manipulate tools, which is used as a marker of species intelligence, the adherence to a code of laws is what holds developed, enlightened nations apart from chaotic, failed states. Think the United States vs. Somalia. We have laws and a system by which they are enforced and adjudicated. They don't.

But that seems to be changing more each year. And the inability to bring our leaders to task for gross malfeasance is high on the list. Indeed, if you can't indict people for the most heinous crimes, you basically have a breakdown of the entire system.