Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Sell-Out Masquerades As Compromise

I want desperately to move away from this issue of the President and his persistent lie that ‘we do not torture,’ but it will not be backed away from.

I want desperately to move away from this issue of the President and his persistent lie that ‘we do not torture,’ but it will not be backed away from.

Wedonottorture Exacerbated by weak-kneed reporting and a lack of follow-up, the various media venues have accepted the Rumsfeld template—don’t answer the question asked, rephrase it as a question that’s answerable.

The media keep referring to ‘compromise’ and ‘all parties agreeing’ when there has been none of that and the laws of the world as well as America have been broken. Flagrantly broken. Undeniably broken. Ransacked and illegally dialed-back in time to retroactively prevent administration prison-terms on a scale not seen since the Reagan White House.

There happen to be no CIA administered terrorist interrogations at the present time, because terror suspects have been hastily retrieved from foreign ‘extraordinary renditions’ to Guantanamo and American military jurisdiction.

So, why the sweaty necessity to rewrite the 1996 War Crimes Act?

Bushrove1_1 Because no one can be absolutely sure of what may happen to control of Congress after the November 7th mid-term elections. Bush thinks and Karl Rove thinks (and I think as well) that control will stay in the hands of Republicans.

Not because the nation loves what has been done by this administration, but because my particular Republican Senator or Representative is a pretty decent guy and, what the hell, gas prices are coming down and Bush says the other guys will raise my taxes.

Senwarnermccain This whole power-play, this evisceration of the McCain-Graham-Warner dissidence, is an insurance policy in case the White House loses control of one or (shudder) both houses of Congress.

The slash-and-burn policies of Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney are possible only when there is ironclad control over all levers of government and only while Democratic objection can be successfully denigrated as soft on terrorism.

In two consecutive elections, Republican demagoguery has sufficiently fired up the fears of an opposition coddling terrorists in America. It's been, in both cases, enough to carry the day. But if Bush-Rove somehow fail to carry a third electoral subterfuge, their whole crew of miscreants are likely to come up on charges relating to the War Crimes Act.

That particular piece of legislation, by the way, is not an international document or a foreign-originating piece of lawmaking. It's a fully debated and unanimously passed (both House and Senate) document signed into law by President Clinton,

. . . criminalizing breaches of the Geneva Conventions in order that the United States could prosecute war criminals (specifically North Vietnamese soldiers that tortured U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War). The Department of Defense supported the bill, recommending that it be expanded to include a longer list of war crimes. Because the United States generally followed the Conventions, the military recommended making breaches by U.S. soldiers war crimes as well "because doing so set a high standard for others to follow."

Good enough. John McCain might have benefited from such a law, had it been in effect when he was imprisoned. McCain might reflect that the five years he spent in Vietnamese prisons just about equals the longest-serving (uncharged) detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere.

But here’s the clinker. Here’s the reason McCain, Graham and Warner lie gutted and flapping like fish on the deck after all their blustering and principled rhetoric—

The law defines a war crime to include a "grave breach of the Geneva Conventions", specifically noting that "grave breach" should have the meaning defined in any convention (related to the laws of war) to which the U.S. is a party.

The law applies if either the victim or the perpetrator is a national of the United States or a member of the U.S. armed forces. The penalty may be (up to) life imprisonment or death. The death penalty is only invoked if the conduct resulted in the death of one or more victims.

There are no protections from the War Crimes Act that accrue to either the president or any senior members of his administration. Even the bringing of such charges is enough to cool Dick Cheney’s famous ‘stomach for it.’ This perfidy was, by the way, strongarmed in the Vice-President's congressional office. The possibility of a president and his senior cabinet being indicted under a War Crimes charge is enough to put a tremor in the voice that claims ‘we do not torture.’

With even a sliver of a chance at a loss in November, the 60% who feel America has been led down a very weedy garden-path, may say ‘prove it.’


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